Our Stronger Together conversation series has celebrated the stories of hundreds of our colleagues, sharing their experiences and what they’ve learnt as they push for change. We may be coming to the end of Pride month, but the work to bring about true equality is an all-year round activity.
For some, this month is a time to reflect on progress, freedom and equality for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies - as well as a time to recognise the need to keep pushing for true equality for all communities everywhere. For others, it’s a time of celebration, coming together with those they love – something that couldn’t be more important now.
Today, Ellie Murauer (she/her), GBMM Durex and Global Lead of the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG) at Reckitt, based in the UK - shares why she believes we need to do more.
Tell us a little more about you…
After nine years in marketing in the hair and beauty space, I joined the Global Durex team at Reckitt in 2015.
I love being outdoors and met my wife Jen playing rugby. We are proud parents of our little rainbow baby Josephine – who was born in November 2020.
Have you always been out at work? Or have you ever felt like you have had to keep it a secret?
Very good question and no, I have not always been out at work. I think there are three main reasons for that.
The first is I needed time to properly come out to myself, accept myself fully and feel comfortable with it.
Secondly, I did not see my diversity as a strength and desperately tried to fit in as much as possible.
And thirdly, I had co-workers and good friends making inappropriate jokes about LGBTQ+ people which, when you already struggle with accepting yourself, is not helping in the coming out process.
Could you tell us about an instance where you faced prejudice in the workplace?
Unfortunately, there are too many. Working in the beauty industry, a stereotype I often got was: lesbians are butch and cannot be feminine. That one was a tough one to swallow as it indirectly undermined my ability to work in beauty while being my true self.
Interestingly, working in the Durex team, I felt a responsibility to myself and the LGBTQ+ community to come out and use my voice to openly challenge heteronormative views and stereotypes.
During your career, what have you seen change on LGBTQ+ matters?
When I started working in 2006, marriage equality was still being discussed, we were barely represented in media or popular culture and when we were it was not done to our advantage. Brands ignored us, and employee resource groups were quasi inexistent.
While lots of positive change has happened, there is still a lot that needs to be done, and I am not taking my rights for granted.
What are some of the most common misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community?
The biggest misconception I come across is that the LGBTQ+ community is a big homogenous, happy family. While we are united by common experiences and fights, each of us has a very different story and unfortunately, even within the community, some people do not feel safe and are systematically excluded from the mainstream narrative.
Transphobia, biphobia and racism exist within the LGBTQ+ community and we need to talk about and change that.
What more needs to change in society for LGBTQ+ people to feel empowered?
The iconic LGBTQ+ activist Marsha P Johnson said: “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us”. I think this is truer today than ever. As long as trans people, bi people and LGBTQ+ people of colour face discrimination, get excluded from the narrative and don’t have the same rights I have, we as a community cannot feel fully empowered.
We also need a more truthful, diverse and positive representation of the LGBTQ+ community in the media and pop culture. This will not only shift attitudes in society, but also empower LGBTQ+ youth to be their true authentic selves.