• Eliminating the Self Edit

    16m 28s

    Beau Newell is the National Program Manager of Pride in Sport Australia, an Australian first sporting inclusion program specifically designed to assist sporting organisations at all levels with the inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) employees, members, volunteers and spectators.

Graphical summary and transcript


Hello everybody. Thank you very much for your time today. I want to start by asking you a question. Imagine if you started a job and you had to hide something about yourself. Now, I want you to think about your first day at your current job or if you're currently unemployed, the first day of your other job prior to this one. And think about the questions that you're asked from your fellow employees. Things like, hi, what's your name? Where do you come from? What did you do before this job? Where did you work previously? Then you start to get into some of the personal questions. Do you have a husband? Do you have a wife? A girlfriend? A boyfriend? Do you have kids? Do you plan on having kids? Imagine now if your the person receiving these questions that you're afraid about what that person might think. From your answers.

I want to share with you my own story to give a little bit of context to the topic, which I'm gonna be discussing about self editing, and this goes back about 13 or 14 years ago when I used to work for a state supporting organization here in New South Wales. And unlike many people who live in capital cities, only lived a couple of minutes away from work. It was around about a 10 to 15 minute drive.

And every single morning when I woke up, I'd get in my car. And the very first thing that I would do is make sure that the radio was turned off. Now, for most of you, you might think that's a bit bizarre. Who wouldn't like to listen to, you know, all of the primetime roadshows?

But for me, that was probably one of the most important times of the day to make sure that my head was straight, ready for me when I started work that day and when I got into the office. So what do I do after I turn that radio off? I'd start driving and then I would start to think about every single thing that I shouldn't do that day. Now, remember, I worked at a state sporting body. Many of you here would probably work for sporting organizations yourselves, and you'll know that it's no surprise that unfortunately for us in Australia, sport is unfortunately very or traditionally homophobic and transphobic.

So for me, starting in an organization, that's whether they were or not had this badge or banner above their heads. It was a difficult time for me to sort of process what people would think about me if they found out that I was gay. So on this drive, and not even just the first day of work, but the entire time I worked with them, I would be thinking about things. What what not to say. So halfway through the drive, I'd be thinking, okay, today I can't say the word fabulous because that's too flamboyant. I can't say the word spectacular.

I can't say the word wonderful. All of those words are too flamboyant. And people know straight away that I'm gay. If I use those words. The next thing I'd know, too, and many of you would have these opportunities where you'd might go out for someone's birthday with your staff members. And so every time we would go out to a staff lunch, for whatever the reason on that drive to the lunch, I would be thinking about, okay, we're going to the local pub. Everyone there is very masculine and butch. And and I'm not necessarily one of these people, but I need to make sure that I order a steak and I can't order a red drink because that's too gay.

Every single day of my working life in sport for the first few years, I was doing this and that's called self editing. I was making sure that people knew as little as they could about my personal life because I feared that that would be something that would be a barrier to me succeeding and advancing my career within the sporting industry.

When we talk about self editing, though, there's three rules as you'll see on the board here, which everyone, regardless of what you're trying to hide, will have to abide by. The first one is that you can't reveal the gender of the person that you're talking about. Now, in my position, when I started in sport, I was a single person, so I didn't necessarily necessarily have to worry about revealing the gender of a boyfriend who wasn't there. However, I would still ask questions about. If I was married or if I had children.

So for me, that was a really difficult thing to navigate. And making sure that I wouldn't answer the fact that I don't have a girlfriend because then I would think about what the follow up question would be. And those things are like, Oh. Don't you have a girlfriend? Have you had a girlfriend previously? What was your last relationship like? All of these things would be swirling through my head about what I'd be thinking.

The second of which and probably one of the hardest out of the three is the fact that I can't reveal my sexual orientation. Like I said at the very start, I was a gay person in a sporting environment and about 13 or 14 years ago. This is well before marriage equality and the big postal plebiscites that we all afforded ourselves to.

Who laughed at that? No kidding.

It was a time when it was difficult for anyone, whether it was someone working in an organization, whether it was whether it was an athlete, whether it was a school student. And so for me, that was one of the most difficult things for me to do. And for me to hide. And you can imagine the strain that would take on me day after day with people that I would be meeting in my job.

I was working in the development field and I have to go out and meet new people and travel the state and meet new committee members. And every single time I met someone, they would start asking these questions. And once I go through that first phase of realizing that I don't have a partner, I'd be worried about what they're thinking in their head. Now, do they think that I'm gay? Did I wave my hand in a particular way that makes it look like I'm flamboyant or camp? Should I have not done that? I should have not ordered that red drink. Then we go in for that lunch. I love red drink, by the way, if it's your round feel free to get me one!

The third and final rule and this is the most difficult one is the fact that you can't lie. Now, in some of my presentations and training exercises that I do with organizations and sports across the country, we play a little bit of a game. And I say that very loosely because it's a good experience for people to understand and experience, even for just a moment of what it's like for someone who identifies as LGBTI+ and to hide something from their fellow colleagues. And when the idea comes in the head is the fact that you can't lie. Think about this. Think about what I asked you before going back to that very first day of work for yourselves and the fact that you're starting to meet all of your new colleagues and then they start ask you questions about your life. We go back to the first ones. It's like, where did you come from previously? I came from this sport.

Oh, do you have a wife or do you have a girlfriend? Straight away remembering these rules. I can't lie. Now, it's amazing the range of vocabulary that people will have when they can lie or when they don't have anything to hide. But for someone who identifies the idea of not lying and following all of these rules, your vocabulary will decrease significantly. Now, imagine that someone comes up to me on my first day of work and I say, Hi, Beau, where are you from? What do you do? Do you have a girlfriend? No.

Do or though I might answer yes, if I say or do you have a partner? Great gender neutral term that I can follow with. Yes, I do have a partner. Oh. What do they do? Banking. My words and my vocabulary will decrease so much that I'm not even having a proper conversation with this person. When we talk about all of these rules that we have to follow, and for someone who identifies as LGBTI, it may amaze you to find out that that's that's taking away 30 percent of your energy for the entire day. Now, remember what I said before I was talking about my drive to and from work every single day. And not just that drive, but every little conversation, every little trigger, every word that I heard in the office. If I was sitting on one side of the room and over the very far side, I wasn't a part of this conversation, but I just heard the word gay straight away my ears would pick up and I'd think, oh, shit, are they talking about me? Have I done something? I've said something. Have I moved my body in a way that will actually out me? So all of those things that I'm talking about are taking energy and it's taking away from my productivity. Now, as employees and employers in the room, I'm sure you can appreciate that all of us want to make sure that we're at 100 percent productive selves in the workforce. Likewise with athletes that are on the field, on the court, on the pitch, we want to make sure that they're bringing their full selves to their games.

But if you're someone who identifies and you're afraid about what people think when they're around you, then you're gonna be self editing and the chances are you'll use an average of 30 percent of your energy every single day to hide your true self. When we talk about the reasons why some of you might understand what some of the basics are around this. I mean, we spoke about the fear of coming into the sporting industry, particularly if you've never been in it before. But there's some really interesting facts I'd like to share with you. One of those actually starts at the very beginning when you're recruiting someone or even going through the induction process. When we talk about employees specifically, we know that 80 percent of employees said that there was no mention of LGBTI inclusion during the recruitment process. Something as simple as putting a simple sentence in your advertising and saying that you want to hire someone to say that you're an LGBTI inclusive employer could mean the world to a person, particularly if they've never been in the sporting industry before. And you want them to come here for the very first time. You may be missing out on the very best person I've ever had work for you. I know my bosses were.

When we talk about language at work. 20 percent of staff in this. These statistics, by the way, came from the very latest Australian Workplace Equality Index. So they've only been released around about two months ago. So they're very, very fresh. And when you talk about language, we know that 20 percent of staff wouldn't call that homophobic language. That's amazing. Imagine sitting in the room here today and someone up the back says, oh, wow, this got this fagot on stages. Doesn't know what he's talking about.

Imagine working in a place that has only 20 percent of staff that would call it out. I think that's stunning. I think if anyone hears that sort of language, we should be able to call it out straight away. Should be able to set them in their place.

Now let's bring it to sport in particular.

Now, some of these statistics came from out in the fields, an international study which was conducted by a few Australian researchers. And we know that 50, 50 percent of gay men, 48 percent of lesbians and 28 percent of straight men have been personally targeted.

They've been the personal targets of either homophobic language or homophobic vilification and actions. Now, they could be very simple things. And it's interesting, too. I regularly speak to a researcher based in Melbourne. Any frequently tells me that when he engages with a number of people and he studies some of the questions that he will ask is particularly in sport, is okay. Have you heard homophobic slurs in the last 12 to 24 months? And it's amazing the results will come back through that. And if you're asking a young cohort of students and I know this was done in a few universities in Melbourne recently, all of the students that enter that survey said the question was, have you heard any homophobic slurs? And I went, no, no, no, no, no. The follow up question was, have you heard words like fagot, puff, dyke, etc, etc?

Yes, yes, yes, yes,yes.

So there's an amazing disconnect between what people's perception and the reality is of homophobic language, and that is just one of the many reasons as to why people will self edit, particularly in the workforce.

So how do we fix this?

Well, I like to think that we've got a simple answer that you can take away and you can start to implement straight away. But like anything, particularly in the entire inclusion and diversity space, it require a little bit of work to do. The first and best example that I can give you in working in the LGBTI inclusion space is to work using the Australian Pride in Sport Index. This is the very first of its kind in the sporting industry. Very first of its kind. Globally, I've been lucky enough to work with people that have gone through the index since I started in my role earlier this year. And in my very short time, I found that people have relied on this to actually identify where they sit in the big scheme of things when it comes to LGBTI inclusion. How does their business perform? How does their sport perform not just on the field, but off the field as well? Even if you're a sport, whether it's only one person that's employed, even if you're a sport, that you've got an entire cohort of volunteers and no paid staff. This will apply to you. This is for grassroots organizations all the way up to national and even international sporting organizations for them to participate in and find out where they sit and where they compare to other sports.

The areas that we look at. And this space may or may not surprise you. We start off with governance and strategy. There's nothing worse than coming into an organization that doesn't have the foundations and the backing of policies and rules behind it. When we're talking about stamping out homophobia. Education and training is a really big part. Engagement with the community, culture and visibility are all exceptional areas that we must be doing work in. I've had conversations with people over the last 12 months that have said, yeah, I've got the answer. The answer is just to make sure that we wave the rainbow flag and we have lots of pride rounds. Don't get me wrong. Those are fantastic events and I encourage every single one of you to eventually do one of them.

But that's just one of the little one of the key areas, one of the six areas that you'll need to work in to make sure that your sport is inclusive to LGBTI people. One of the sections of the index, which probably doesn't have as much emphasis, but one area that I do encourage you to ensure that you engage with at some point is making sure that you listen to LGBTI people within your sport, be that staff members, be the athletes. And I'm not saying go to all of your athletes and say, okay, all the gay people, come here, I need to talk to you. But for those who feel comfortable about it, have a conversation with them, find out what their barriers are. Because I can guarantee you at the very least, they will have very similar experiences and examples of what mine was about self editing, whether that be driving to their game and having the conversation about what happens if they hear a particular word, why they're playing a game or if it is what policies they need to follow.

I'd just like to wrap up real quickly just to say. That my work in this space, I'm lucky enough that if I want a job for many, many years, I'm going to have it. Even if all of you leave this room today and start working in the LGBTI inclusion space and I don't want to speak for the other areas of inclusion and diversity, but most certainly for LGBTI, you don't have to be an expert.

I'm certainly not an expert. You're cutting me off already. That's what they're carrying over the microphone. You don't have to be an expert in this space. I'm certainly not an expert. I've said to you that I'm a gay man, but I'm not a lesbian. I'm not a bisexual. I'm not transgender. I'm not intersex. I'm not asexual etc., etc.. I consider myself an ally for all of those different communities.

And I hope that you are after leaving here today and finding out a little bit more about what you can do with the Pride in Sport Index that you will also join me in the space of being an ally for the LGBTI community. Thank you.