Iceland is considered one of the most progressive LGBTQI+ friendly countries in the world
In Iceland, same-sex couples have had equal access to adoption and IVF since 2006 and had, prior to that, been able to register as domestic partners since 1996. In February 2009, a minority government took office, headed by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the world's first openly gay head of government in modern times.
A year later, a measure legalizing same-sex marriage passed the Icelandic legislature with not a single vote against it. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir then became one of the first people to get married under the new statute to her long-time partner. With such a rich and positive history of supporting gay rights, it's no wonder that over 70% of the country's 350,000 population participated in Pride festivities this past year.
We recently celebrated Iceland's Pride Week here at Lucinity with a lunch and learn hour. It included special guest speaker Gary Rhoda, Human Rights Officer. Gary has extensive experience in human rights research, gender rights, and law. He works for The Commonwealth, which brings together 56 countries to work towards prosperity, democracy, and peace. His keen observations about the LGBTQI+ community as it becomes another thread in the fabric of society are insightful and relatable, no matter which section of society you identify with.
Aside from recognizing the history of Pride and how its prevalence has grown, we dug deeper into what Pride Month has evolved to mean in the present day. For one, Gary pointed out that Pride Month is different everywhere because the chosen month means something different to each country. For example, Pride Month occurs throughout the summer in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall riots in June 1969. June is Pride Month in London, followed by the Pride Parade in July, and August in Reykjavik. Pride now extends to cities throughout the countries making it logistically difficult to run them all on the same day.
What do we include in inclusion?
We also got into the nitty-gritty of how a company can make valuable changes in the workplace to ensure inherent inclusivity, where all employees feel comfortable to be their authentic selves. While employees using preferred pronouns signals recognition to those in the LGBTQI+ community within an organization, more needs to be done to win what some perceive as a culture war. Cultivating an inclusive company culture requires much more than a few gestures.
It starts with a diverse workforce interviewed by a diverse interview panel. Gary provided a fantastic example, a woman on an interview panel is more likely to understand and empathize with the work gaps of a mother interviewing for a role. It's a point that highlights the idea that inclusivity is for everyone because each identity comes with its own inherited biases.
We need to have a shared understanding of what diversity, inclusion, and belonging mean and how they connect to catalyze sustainable change. At Lucinity, we approach belonging as a feeling, inclusion as a practice, and diversity as an outcome.
Where do we go from here?
When it comes down to it, a one-to-one conversation using a storytelling approach is what truly opens the lines of communication. Everyone's experience is individually different but relatable because we're all humans.
There is always more work to be done. There is always a need for a Pride event somewhere, be it in a small town or a workplace zoom call with colleagues.