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Elsevier Pride: Workplace pride at Elsevier

by Oebele Kooistra in Lifestyle & Fashion , 20 september 2017

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

“Who’s a bingo virgin?” Drag Queen Didi Licious asks the mostly young crowd in Elsevier’s canteen, decorated in rainbow colors. The language is English, and Didi explains the rules of the game to the bingo novices.

“Are we getting closer? You have to say bingo!” There are healthy snacks available, and everyone is enjoying a drink while the bingo excitement increases. The main prize is two spots on the Bi-boat at the Pride Amsterdam Canal Parade. Who will win them?

Two Elsevier Pride Members are present, and while Gina Walker is assisting Didi, Rena Wolf informs the attendees on Elsevier Pride. In 2012, Michiel Kolman, Senior VP Global Academic Relations, founded the Elsevier Pride Group in the context of Workplace Pride. In 2014 Elsevier signed the Declaration of Amsterdam, and thus the ambition to provide GLBT staff with a safe workplace became official company policy.

Studies show GLBT’s who can be who they want to be at work also perform better. A win-win situation! For four years now, Elsevier Pride has been organizing educational, awareness and entertainment activities. Elsevier deliberately organized an internal Pride Party by inviting Drag Queen Didi Licious. The proceeds of the bingo went to Amnesty International.

In 2016, Elsevier published an impressive annual report stating how the company promotes diversity worldwide. Changing the work culture takes time, but Elsevier is crystal clear when it comes to its ambitions to attract GLBT talent and making them feel safe. The bingo proved an excellent opportunity to ask the staff what their thoughts on the matter are.

Two young women who were sitting at the large table are looking around, smiling. It is their first time, and Didi is quite a character. “We are really enjoying ourselves! We do know bisexuals, but we have never experienced this kind of openness before.” In the restaurant at the back, some young men are standing on their seats to be able to watch the podium. They are so mesmerized that they don’t even hear the questions. A lady in a chic summer dress starts talking about awareness. “It is good to realize your female colleague may have a girlfriend. Elsevier Pride contributes to this awareness.”

The words inclusion, open-mindedness, and awareness continue to surface in the interviews. Business contacts from other international companies are also attending. They are of the opinion that Elsevier is giving the right signal, and a number of them are considering the possibility of their company’s also organizing such an event: “We would like to follow in Elsevier’s footsteps! It brings people closer together.”

Ryan, an Elsevier member of staff, and gay: “All my friends are simply jealous of what we have here at Elsevier. It is getting bigger every year.” A colleague adds: “This has to continue, being able to do and be what you want to do and want to be.”

Meanwhile it is bingo, and Didi hands the tickets for the Bi-boat over to the winner. Who will she bring along? Her boyfriend, of course! While Didi sings her last song, the crowd is going crazy.

Elsevier is the largest science and technical publisher in the world.
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