Photo ID, from left to right:

Moderator: Darren Dunne (SBBC); Speakers: Sandra Lee (NSCSS), Diane Shaher (founder, PHRSH Threads), Max Rivest (founder, Wize Tea), and Tom Conway (CEO, SBBC) at the Small Business BC offices, Vancouver.

NSCSS Communications & Development Manager, Sandra Lee, spoke as a panelist at Small Business BC’s premier event on 2SLGBTQ+ Entrepreneurial Leadership – and creating safe and inclusive workplaces as responsible leaders.

Though our agency primarily focuses on domestic violence, many of our clients are working professionals who often carry their trauma with them when they clock in. Support systems play a pivotal role in women escaping abuse. It could be a co-worker, frequent Uber Eats driver or your supervisor who gives you the strength to step forward about abuse and seek support (link: how to support someone experiencing abuse).

Facts on 2SLGBTQ+ Women & Inter-Partner Violence (IPV), Canadian Women’s Foundation, Statistics Canada, released 2021:

  • Two-thirds of 2SLGBTQ+ women in Canada have experienced IPV in their lifetime
  • Almost 50% of 2SLGBTQ+ women experienced physical or sexual assaults by an intimate partner
  • Bisexual women face particularly high rates of GBV compared to heterosexual & lesbian women. From a 2018 nationwide household survey on Gender-based Violence:
    • 76% of bisexual women reported experiencing unwanted sexual behaviour, compared to heterosexual women (31%).
    • 55% of bisexual women reported that they had been sexually assaulted in their lifetime (since age 15)

Equipping 2SLGBTQ+ leaders with the right tools to create conscious workplace cultures will lead to more safe and inclusive spaces for everyone. Operating under the overarching culture of community, love, and safety (with a healthy smidge of rebellion), 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to create this change that we’ve been yearning for.

Panelists spoke of their personal experiences as 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and employees, as well as recommendations for creating inclusive and conscious policies.

Here are Our 3 Starting Points for Creating Safe & Inclusive Workplaces

Invest in Strong Leadership

Whether you’re a for-profit company, a social enterprise, or a non-profit organization, investing in leadership is absolutely the best way to create and sustain change. Change Management is difficult, and how these policies benefit your bottom line won’t be obvious to everyone. You’ll need leaders who can dream up these new policies, defend them as a united front, and lead by example.

Suggestion: Canadian consulting company, Wisdom2Action

Check Your Biases Before You Submit Reviews

Upon writing your employee evaluations, consider your predetermined benchmarks. Furthermore, write your evaluations with enough data so that the reasons behind your ratings can be easily understood by a third party. Members of a majority (in-groups) are often given the benefit of the doubt and judged on their potential, while out-groups must prove their worth. As part of management, it’s even more important that you check your biases and ensure that your perceptions of performance is separate from potential, as is personality from skill sets.

Engage Your Employees Prior to Creating New Policies

Harvard Business Review published a study on the effectiveness of DEI programs, and found that most employees in underrepresented groups — women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ employees — don’t feel that they’ve personally benefited from their companies’ DEI programs. Their obstacles continue to be underestimated by members of the majority group – particularly the pervasive, day-to-day bias – that diverse employees face.

If you’re creating new workplace policies that benefit specific employees, consult them on the changes you think will help. Allow marginalized people to join in on your discussions about marginalization at work.

Much more was discussed during this event. We encourage you to visit Small Business BC for more information.

“Small Business BC (SBBC) has a long history of bringing our entrepreneur and the small business community together in many modes, including Meetups. It’s a great way to connect with people who understand where you’re coming from, as they have been (or will be) in your situation, whatever it may be,” says Tom Conway, CEO, of SBBC.

“As a queer entrepreneur myself, I was thrilled when my team suggested our first in-person Meetup post-pandemic (ish) would be a PRIDE-related session. I knew that each of the panelists would bring a different, yet important perspective on creating safe spaces for our community. That message needed to be heard by not only our LGBTQ2S+ business owners, but also by our allies and allies-to-be! I am so grateful to our panelists, Sandra, Diane, and Max for giving their time in a way that was both vulnerable and full of impact!”

Thank you, Tom and the lovely SBBC team, for hosting this event. It was an honour to participate and a pleasure to meet the many change-makers within the SBBC network. We are inspired and hope to pursue more collaborative opportunities like this in the future.