Standing in my friend’s kitchen seemed as good a place as any to come up with a new project. Slurping on coffee can often be a lightbulb moment, and a simple question set into motion a chain of events that would culminate in InterComms – Why isn’t there an LGBT network covering anyone who works in communications?
As a gay man, I’m acutely aware of the huge contribution LGBT+ individuals are making to our industry, but what are we offering them back? Are we really doing all we can to nurture and champion our LGBT talent? For me, the answer was no, but we should.
A network with clear objectives to implement real change
And so InterComms was born. A network with clear objectives to implement real change, to positively impact both the people within our industry and the industry itself.
My vision is that InterComms will not only represent LGBT+ employees, but proactively work with charities and organisations, as well as already well-established LGBT+ networks to pioneer an industry charter. We will work towards setting a standard for all LGBT+ employees who work in communications, in house or in agency, large or small. Longer term, InterComms can play a crucial role in ensuring the communications industry becomes the leading sector in supporting and championing LGBT+ employees.
As communications professionals, I believe we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of engaging and influencing across the full spectrum of public, private, third and fourth estates. InterComms can be the hub to make that happen, serving as a forum and facilitator to share best practice and bring about real change. This is not just an opportunity to engage, but an opportunity to lead.
I’m passionate that this will happen at all levels of our industry. We want to represent our industry, implementing change from the top and encouraging those like myself who are eager to work with colleagues on the ground to make it happen.
Why do we need an LGBT+ network?
The question is often asked, but why? Why is it important? Why do we need an LGBT+ network? Well, in my view, now more than ever, when divisive rhetoric seems increasingly commonplace, it’s never been more important. From social and cultural to pure economics and an improved bottom line, supporting and valuing the LGBT+ workforce is vital.
On attracting talent, having a clear, supportive LGBT+ policies are crucial to recruiting, with 89% of LGBT employees expecting written non-discrimination policy covering all aspects of diversity, including sexual orientation.
On retaining talent, among LGBT+ people who are out at work there are almost 17% fewer people are thinking to leave the job in the near future than among those that are not ‘out’.
LGBT-led companies had outperformed the other index companies by 3%
And on the pure economics, LGBT-led companies had outperformed the other index companies by 3% annually since 2010. This is why the CEOs here and in our industry should care, but this isn’t just about business, it’s about our most important asset, our people.
We should do more, and we can do more.
As I write this article, 1 in 4 LGB employees are still experiencing bullying, 1 in 4 LGB of us are actively altering our behaviour to hide their sexual orientation and 1 in 8 LGB employees don’t feel confident reporting homophobic bullying in their workplace.
The figures are exponentially worse for transgender employees, half of whom are not living permanently in their preferred gender role because they fear it might threaten their employment status.
InterComms will be a catalyst for change
InterComms will be a catalyst for change, reinvigorating and reimagining the support available to LGBT employees in our industry. Our industry faces challenges and opportunities as we re-calibrate to an ever changing social and business environment and I passionately believe InterComms can provide the network and the forum to facilitate real change. Change that brings together inspirational industry from all corners of communications. Change which does not just talk about change, but commits to it and makes it happen.
If you want to get involved, please do drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org!
Ethan Spibey is the Founder of InterComms LGBT Network
 Harris Interactive/Witeck-Combs Communications (2006)
 Survey by OutNow17 in 2015 in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, UK and US