Team CSIRO: value of LGBTIQ+ inclusion

By Louise Jeckells

28 August 2020

5 minute read

Over 50 of our scientists and employees marched in the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras demonstrate our commitment to LGBTIQ+ inclusion at CSIRO.

More than 50 of our scientists and employees marched in the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras demonstrating our commitment to LGBTIQ+ inclusion.

Do you know how hard it would be to go to work and do your best if you felt excluded? No one should feel like that. That’s why we work very hard on inclusivity of cultures, background and gender.

Earlier this year, we received Gold Employer Status in the 2020 Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI). This award represents our leap forward in LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/gender diverse, intersex and queer) inclusiveness.

But to really understand the significance, we spoke to two of our LGBTIQ+ identifying researchers about what it means to them.

Jessica showing up for Wear it Purple!

Jess showing up for Wear it Purple!

Jessica Stromberg

She’s empowered to take action

In my work I develop new tools to address the challenges of Australia’s mineral exploration industry. I have a background in geochemistry and hyperspectral mineralogy in the context of gold deposits. I use those techniques to improve our understanding of the ‘footprints’ of known mineral deposits and underexplored areas. I’m currently working on projects focused on the footprints of gold deposits in Western Australia and copper deposits in Queensland.

What does the Gold Employer Status mean to you?

The recently awarded AWEI gold status makes me incredibly proud to work at CSIRO. To me it signifies that our organisation is truly committed to creating a safe and inclusive space for all employees, and is willing to do the work achieve that.

How does it affect your work?

The inclusive environment means that when I am at work, I can bring my whole self and put all of my resources and energy into my work knowing that all parts of my identity are valued and accepted. Knowing CSIRO shares my beliefs and openly stands behind the importance of diversity and inclusion has empowered me to take responsibility and action in working towards fostering increased diversity and representation in untapped populations in STEM. I do this both in CSIRO and also in the wider community as a member of the QueersInScience National Committee.

TJ meets a lot of diverse people when they travel for work.

TJ meets a lot of diverse people when they travel for work.

TJ Lawson

They are proud of their viewpoint

I work on two main projects: global plastics and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The global plastic project looks at how plastic enters and moves through the environment. Parts of the IUU project I work on looks at identifying ships from satellite imagery and listening for bomb blasts and illegal fishing boats. I travel a lot and work with a variety of people around the world.

What does the Gold Employer Status mean to you?

For me, as an LGBTIQ+ identifying staff member, it means a safe place for me to go everyday and work. This status means they recognise me and my community and accept I/we may have different challenges to others but will be there to help us through. It’s a recognition of our diversity and acceptance. And our diversity and inclusion is a good thing to the rest of our organisation.

How does it affect your work?

It’s very hard to work, or even just be present, in a place where you do not feel accepted for who you are. It doesn’t make you want to give 100 per cent. CSIRO makes me want to put in 110 per cent because I feel everyone is supporting me – regardless of my gender or sexuality.

And because of my background, what I have experienced and the way I look at the world or the way the world sees me, my ideas are generally different to others. This means I can bring a different viewpoint to the table.

And when I travel to places where it’s not okay to be outwardly LGBTIQ+ I have a lot of people say they wish they could live in a world like mine. A world where I can work openly as a transgender person and am accepted for who I am.

LGBTIQ+ inclusion here and beyond

As you can tell, we’re big on LGBTIQ+ inclusion at CSIRO. We celebrate lots of LGBTIQ+ events during the year including Wear it Purple and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. So, we’ve pulled together a few things you can do to encourage inclusion at your home or workplace:

To help break down stereotypes and demonstrate the importance of inclusive language, we put several questions to our LGBTIQ+ identifying members to find out ‘can we ask that’?Check out the video to hear what they had to say.