As part of the prosecution service’s contribution to the 2017 Hate Crime Awareness campaign we highlighted the commitment to tackling hate crime in Scottish society.
Today we focus on the importance of having a workplace culture that is inclusive of everyone.
Ruaraidh is a gay man who works as a Procurator Fiscal Depute in the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.
Here is his story:
“Immediately after university, I started working in a cocktail bar in Edinburgh where many staff made frequent homophobic remarks. These remarks were not routinely directed at anyone in particular, but homophobic nonetheless.
“Most of the staff were great and while I didn’t always appreciate their choice of language, I believed that there was no actual malice behind their choice of words, and ultimately no inherently homophobic views hiding behind the offensive remarks.
“CHALLENGING THE TOXIC CULTURE”
“My view changed when I overheard a number of my colleagues discussing me directly. I was hurt and seriously considered quitting as it was soul destroying to be surrounded by such mindless banter. Instead, I decided to challenge the toxic culture around me. It was clear that the management had no intention or ability to do so and their language wasn’t much better than their staff.
“The next time I heard colleagues make offensive remarks I directly challenged them, not in an antagonistic way, but in a manner that simply highlighted that I had heard the remark and did not appreciate it.
“I was surprised when other staff began to support me when I made these challenges and also made challenges of their own. It was so heartening to find that I had allies in the bar and, very quickly, the culture of the bar changed.
“I began to enjoy work again. I stayed there for several months and left having made firm friends with those who had previously been responsible for the homophobic banter.
“ACCEPTED FOR WHO I AM”
“While this story is nothing compared to what some LGBTI people in Scotland have experienced, it emphasises how important it is to be accepted for who I am. It also shows the massive impact that even the smallest actions by an ally can have upon someone who doesn’t feel accepted.
“I joined COPFS in 2013 and became involved in equality and diversity work. That’s because I recognise the importance of having a workplace culture that is inclusive of everyone, because, I have experienced working in places where no such culture exists
“Thankfully COPFS is an organisation full of allies – highlighted by the size of the ‘Friends of Proud’ network (a COPFS LGBT information and advisory group). For allies reading this, please know that your support and actions are appreciated, probably to an extent that you will never fully know.”