The Yarra City Council has a proud history of being at the forefront of LGBTIQ inclusion in Australia. In 2016, Cameron Cahill and Polykala collaborated to develop the LGBTIQ inclusion training, Working with Pride.

Context

In 2016, Cameron Cahill from the Yarra City Council engaged Polykala to design and deliver a new training package focussed on LGBTIQ+ inclusion in the workplace. Driven by the success of Polykala’s partnership with Darebin City Council and the rollout of the ‘Say No to Racism’ training across Victoria, Yarra City Council sought a similar training focussing on inclusive workplaces for queer people.

They wanted training that engaged people’s hearts, not just their heads. They were looking for a learning opportunity that encouraged participants to reflect on their own experience of bringing their full selves to work. They wanted participants to connect to the experiences of their LGBTIQ+ colleagues and the work that was required to ‘get by’ in the workplace. Finally, they wanted the training to incorporate practical skills that could be applied straight away to promote more inclusive workplaces.

The outcome of the extensive consultation, design and piloting process with the Yarra City Council team was ‘Working with Pride’.

Approach

‘Working with Pride’ training is an experiential leadership training program designed for people managers and emerging leaders to create an inclusive workplace environment that is more accepting, vibrant and productive — where all staff are empowered to bring their whole selves to work.

The goal of the training was to provide workplace influencers and managers with tools and awareness to help cultivate a welcoming environment for all employees, no matter their sexuality, gender expression or identity. When staff can focus their attention on their work rather than hiding parts of themselves and dealing with social stigma, huge gains can be made on belonging and work quality.

The training gave first-hand experiences of the content by applying the tools in a supported learning environment where participants were encouraged to challenge their own assumptions and build the skills necessary to engage in learning conversations that would lead to behaviour change and organisational change.

The design and facilitation of the training received immediate praise during the piloting phase, which included members of the Executive Management Team at the Yarra City Council.

“This program is a must for any modern and aspiring leader. It takes you comfortably out of your comfort zone and challenges your prejudices. Most importantly it creates a safe environment to learn, share experiences and ask the questions you need to ask.”  

Andrew Day – Director, Corporate, Business & Finance, Yarra City Council

Outcomes

The work we did with Cameron Cahill stands as one of our (excuse the pun) proudest professional experiences. The dedication and drive of Cameron and the broader team at the Yarra City Council ensured that this was a collaborative, honest and productive process for us. It’s no wonder that ‘Working with Pride’ was prototyped at the Yarra City Council given what we experienced of their collaborative and transparent workplace culture.

Critical to the delivery of the program was the work of Ada Castle, who joined Polykala to co-facilitate the training sessions. Ada’s facilitation experience and her work with Switchboard Victoria were pivotal to the co-design and implementation of the program. 

The training was delivered to local government and not-for-profit organisations across Melbourne and Victoria throughout 2017-2019, including Hobsons Bay City Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire and Sacred Heart Mission.

At program launch, we were lucky to host some of Victoria’s most notable LGBTIQ+ champions: Ro Allen (Victorian Commissioner of Gender & Sexuality), Jason Ball (Founder, Pride Cup), Brenda Appleton OAM (Chair, Transgender Victoria) and Rebecca Scott (Founder & CEO, STREAT).

To our delight, Cameron and the Yarra City Council were awarded the ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ award at the 2017 LGPro Awards for Excellence for their work on ‘Working with Pride’. At the event, the project was described as a “training program that takes organisations from merely tolerating difference to celebrating it”. 

“Fostering organisational cultures that respect LGBTI Victorians is fundamental to Victoria’s success. Working with Pride is an important step towards helping organisations follow best practice.”

Ro Allen – Commissioner for Gender & Sexuality, State Government of Victoria

Client

Yarra City Council

Year

2016 – 2019

Number of participants

200

Number of sessions

8

Location

Melbourne (VIC)