Reflecting on progress during LGBT+ History month

Joselene Peres, 28 February 2023

For many years, a significant part of my life has involved embracing all things equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) related.

My career so far has included various roles within the social housing sector but in recent years, I shifted from data analysis to working as an Institutional Equity Lead within the higher education sector. I’m also on the Board of Trustees for an amazing charity called the Kaleidoscope Trust.

“You’re a Winner Baby!” The words of RuPaul always stick in my mind when the going gets tough. If I have learnt anything through the coronavirus pandemic, celebrate those daily small wins. Small accomplishments are some of the most important things in life which keep us going. LGBT+ History Month provides me with time to pause and reflect on the past, present and future as we strive to deliver equality and inclusion.

Working in social housing

I worked in social housing at L&Q for almost 11 years before moving recently into the higher education sector. The experience within housing was eye-opening and helped me embrace my passion and continue advocating for LGBTQ+ people in society. From my earliest memory, I’ve always had a driving desire to use my voice and speak up when situations were not right and over time, I became what one would call a ‘social justice warrior.’

This has been further driven by working in a housing association with an ongoing commitment to diversity and to creating an inclusive workplace culture for LGBT+ colleagues and residents.

I’ve had the opportunity to use my EDI knowledge, skills, and networking abilities to create a safe space within L&Q and the wider sector for LGBTQ+ people. I was part of a group of staff who helped establish what now has become a highly successful LGBTQ+ staff network called Spectrum. The network celebrated its 10th anniversary in May 2022 and is still going strong.

As a co-chair of the staff network, I was able to help the organisation become an inclusive employer, not just for LGBTQ+ people but also for other intersectionalities grouped under the EDI umbrella.

A huge achievement was using our passion to drive positive change within L&Q and across the sector. This was highlighted with L&Q being named as one of Britain’s top 100 LGBT-inclusive employers by Stonewall an impressive six times in nine years. This is a UK workplace equality index which benchmarks employers to measure their progress for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace.

I don't believe index and benchmarking should always be a way of measuring success or determining your EDI journey. However, it’s a great way to start as it holds organisations to account by demonstrating progression.

The success we had as an LGBTQ+ staff network at L&Q and within the sector inspired us to become one of the founding members of an LGBTQ+ network group for people in social housing called HouseProud. Building a collective voice as part of HouseProud provided us with the opportunity to commission research through the University of Surrey. This was an important project and the first of its kind within the sector leading to the launch of the HouseProud Pledge Scheme.

Becoming a Board Trustee  

In 2022, I was excited to officially join the Board of Trustees at the Kaleidoscope Trust. I’ve always been extremely impressed by the incredible work they do around the world to support LGBTQ+ people’s rights. The Kaleidoscope Trust’s vision is a world where LGBTQ+ people everywhere are free to be themselves and nobody is left behind in the fight for freedom, safety, and equality.

More notable achievements for Kaleidoscope recently include launching their Policy Manifesto to urge the UK government to help advance equality for LGBTQ+ people across the world. The manifesto was launched at a Labour Party Conference 2022 with speakers including Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, Shadow Minister for International Development, Stephen Doughty, and co-chair of the APPG on LGBT+ Global Equality, Angela Eagle. The Policy Manifesto was also shared with Conservative Party members at their Conference in Birmingham. 

In October 2022, we were able to host the first in-person annual Gala Dinner since the covid pandemic. The annual event is an important opportunity to let our supporters know about our work and raise vital funds to help us work towards a world where all LGBT+ people are free, safe and equal. In total over £70,000 was raised through advance and on-the-night donations.

I’m truly honoured to be part of organisations that have played important roles in driving change for the LGBTQ+ community. These initiatives have created meaningful waves of changes making a huge difference to LGBTQ+ people around the world in many ways.

The journey as a social justice warrior is never over and if you are looking for a worthy charity to support, please consider the Kaleidoscope Trust. In a world filled with inequality, we will continue advocating and helping marginalised groups by amplifying their voices and experiences.