“myGwork is here for everyone: to support, train, and build community in many different ways”
BY ZOE SCHULZ, CUSTOMER SUCCESS MANAGER AT MYGWORK
After working in LGBTQI equality for a number of years, Zoë Schulz joined the myGwork team in a client focused role. With a background in fundraising and advocacy at Stonewall and Terrence Higgins she brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for community building with her.
As the first point of contact for the huge range of partners at myGwork, she loves to help them create and improve equality in the workplace, empower them as LGBTQI allies, and kick start conversations on inclusion. When partners come to her, what they are looking to achieve or implement can vary vastly. Whether it’s a small startup, a large corporation, or a multinational bank, it can all start with a simple conversation.
“Often clients come to me at very different stages of their journey, they may be inclusivity gurus wanting to take their current knowledge even further, or they might be at the very beginning of learning how to support LGBTQI people in the workplace, but we work with everyone at whichever stage they are at. We provide LGBTQI 101 training, empower allies to speak up when they see discrimination, and support an organisation with all the tools to create an inclusive environment. There’s a huge range of ways that we can work together, from helping businesses to recruit and retain more LGBTQI talent, to organising unconscious bias training and supporting them in ensuring job adverts are written using inclusive language.”
Whether it is a small organisation with five employees that want to demonstrate that they are showing up for the LGBTQI community, or if it is a multinational business that wants to rewrite their trans policy, myGwork is here for everyone: to support, train, and build community in many different ways. “We are a business community for LGBTQI professionals, leaders, allies, graduates and inclusive organisations, so as long as you believe in workplace equality there’s always work we can do together. Ultimately we make sure what we do is right for that partner’s needs and will support them on their journey to creating an inclusive workplace.”
Through the pandemic, Zoë has been aware of how the LGBTQI community is disproportionately at risk and can be more vulnerable during a lockdown. She has been extremely heartened by the way all of the myGwork partners have stayed motivated and kept pushing forward. The desire to keep conversations about equality going, celebrating Pride and continue learning has not waned. “One thing we’ve seen is a massive hunger to keep community and connection alive – we all need this more now than ever and digital communities have become a lifeline. I’ve been really impressed by the ingenuity of all our partners and how they have been driven to keep pushing for LGBTQI equality, even through the pandemic. We’ve always been forward-thinking in connecting our community digitally, so having that infrastructure helped massively when the lockdown first started as all of our partners looked to us to support them in hosting digital events and training, and together we’ve been able to connect people in digital spaces and ensure that feeling of community has been stronger than ever.”
When you can’t see someone in person every day, things can be a little hazy; are you really able to tell if they are struggling via a video call? That is at the forefront of Zoë and her partners’ minds. Although nobody knows just how things will play out, the learnings over the past months will stay.
Like anyone else, lockdown has thrown up its own challenges for Zoë. “Lockdown has taken a toll on my mental health more than I’ve expected. We are all learning and figuring it out day by day. We just need to stay kind and stay connected.” She has seen a myriad of initiatives struggle for funding, so has been helping fundraise for smaller charities that might have had funding gaps to fill. More than anything, she believes that checking in with each other will continue to be more and more important.
Zoë herself left University unsure of what she wanted to do. “I just knew that I wanted to do something I cared about and wanted to work to support vulnerable and marginalised people. As a queer person I was frustrated at the treatment of LGBTQI people and always passionate about equality, but I didn’t know how to create that change in society untill I started my career.” Not only has she focused on cultivating a rich and meaningful career for herself, but Zoë also helped to create a LGBTQI community centre in London, (using her fundraising knowledge to help the team working on it), and runs the ethical and sustainable streetwear brand femme forte that donates some of its profits to Mermaids and Bloody Good Period.
Now she is dedicated to amplifying the work of myGwork’s partners; writing for the blog, being creative and talking about things that are important to the community, helping with monthly campaigns and curating incredible content. “We’ve had some amazing interviews – from tips for parents on raising a trans child, to interview advice, to empowering stories from LGBTQI people who are proudly out and thriving in the workplace. For LGBTQI people wanting to enter a career at one of our partner organisations, reading these stories can be the reassurance they need to know that they will be unwaveringly supported in the workplace and have the freedom to be their true self, while excelling at what they do – you don’t have to choose between the two.”
It has been a time of focused hard work and a time for creating new initiatives for the whole team at myGwork. “I’m so proud of the work we’ve done; amplifying the voices of change makers and activists and WorkPride was incredibly special too. We had 18,000 people tuned in to WorkPride from around the world, and over 180 speakers. It was also incredibly inspiring to see how passionate the whole team was and how hard my colleagues worked to make WorkPride a reality. Plus, all of the panels and events are now available for free on our website, to me this is an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to learn more about equality both in and outside of the workplace.”
With achievements like those, particularly in the digital sphere, Zoë has been buoyed and has a lot on her agenda to keep pushing forward. She would like to see the conversation of trans rights at the forefront of what she does and really amplifying the voices of those who are active in that space. Then she would like the law around passports to change so that non-binary people can have their identities legally recognised. It seems that her resolve is stronger than ever.
“Being in the midst of a global crisis doesn’t make anything easier – but our community needs help more than ever. When it comes to it, it can be difficult to see discrimination if it isn’t explicit or in your face – it can be easy to think that it’s solved… to tick it off saying we have certain laws and there isn’t work to do. However, looking at the statistics and lived experiences of many LGBTQI people, we know it’s a different story. The rates of homelessness in our community is a stark reminder of this, the disproportionate rates of mental illness that LGBTQI people face and the fact that for many it simply still is not safe for them to live as their authentic true self. We all need to keep speaking up when we see injustices and keep pushing for workplace equality, as although we should be proud of the progress that’s been made, there is still so much more work to do. The fact that at myGwork we have so many organisations who are ready to jump in and be part of creating that change in our society is truly remarkable and it’s a privilege to be able to work with our partners on that journey.”
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