The retail sector is Australia’s largest private employer, providing training and career pathways for more than 1.4 million Australians.
Shockingly, the pride community is not captured as part of national census but the Australian Human Rights Commission estimates that around 11% of Australians identify as LGBTQ+.
So it would be fair to recognise there are potentially around 154,000 retail workers – maybe more given that younger people are over-represented in the retail workforce.
This is where National Coming Out Day plays a significant part. The ARA is working with InterRetail to ensure that members have the tools they need to establish safe and inclusive workplaces for employees with diverse live experiences.
Adding to this are customers who also find meaning in this important day, either personally or through connections with family, colleagues and friends, so we are taking a moment to reflect on what Coming Out means on a personal level.
Coming out is a deeply personal and transformative journey that many individuals embark upon to embrace their authentic selves. It involves revealing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity to others, often in a society that may not always be fully accepting.
So on National Coming Out Day we explore the significance of coming out, the challenges it can entail, and the profound impact it has on individuals and society.
Coming out is a pivotal step toward self-acceptance. It allows individuals to acknowledge and embrace their true identity, leading to improved mental and emotional well-being. It also enables individuals to live authentically, free from the burden of hiding their true selves. It fosters a sense of congruence between one’s inner and outer lives.
It also often involves sharing one’s identity with friends and family, leading to deeper, more meaningful connections and a stronger support system.The challenges of coming out include the very real fear of rejection. Many individuals fear rejection or discrimination when coming out, which can strain relationships and lead to feelings of isolation. Societal prejudice and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals can create additional challenges as individuals may face bias, stereotypes, or discrimination. The impact on individuals includes a significant period of personal growth as sharing one’s authentic self is a transformative process that fosters personal growth, resilience, and self-confidence. It empowers individuals to advocate for their rights and contribute to the broader LGBTQ+ community’s visibility and acceptance. For many, it can lead to improved mental health and reduced anxiety, as the burden of secrecy is lifted. Coming out also challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about LGBTQ+ individuals, promoting a more inclusive society. It plays a crucial role in advancing LGBTQ+ rights by raising awareness and advocating for legal protections against discrimination. The visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals fosters acceptance and empathy, contributing to a more inclusive and diverse society. This National Coming Out Day we encourage your to recognise and celebrate your LGBTQ+ staff and customers for who they are, the valuable contribution they make and to continue to provide the necessary support they need to thrive and feel safe working in the retail sector.
To find out more about how your business can support your LGBTQ+ employees, whether they have come out our not, click on this link for our Position Statement for the Inclusion of LGBTQ+ People at retail.org.au/pride.