Word of the Chair

Dear Member, Ally, Friend,…

On Saturday May 20th we were all united celebrating Pride. ❤️ Love is love. ❤️ While often we hear that we are all equal in Belgium, we are asked as well why we still need a Pride?

Yes, Belgium is known worldwide as one of the forerunners in terms of LGBTQIA+ rights. We are second in the ILGA ranking.

Yes, the protests in New York following to the police raiding the gay bar Stonewall Inn in 1969 was a turning point in history. Much progress has been made since then thanks to courageous activists, who stood up against the injustices they faced when it comes to LGBTQIA+ rights.

But, unfortunately, queer people worldwide still too often face exclusion, discrimination, hatred and even violence.  Yes, in Belgium too.

Pride highlights the need for equality for everyone, everywhere in the world.

So yes, Pride was born out of protest and as long as protest is needed, we still need a Pride.

Precisely because it is not safe or feasible for everyone to take to the streets and make themselves heard, let alone be themselves.

And yes Pride is a celebration to remind us of a long journey that is not over and probably never will be.

Yes, Pride activities are accompanied by music which does not mean that it is just a party. Pride is first and foremost a protest, but Pride is also a celebration.

Gay rights are human rights and everyone has the right to be free to be themselves and to love whomever you want. Regardless of gender or sexual orientation. That is definitely worth celebrating!

Dear Member, Ally, Friend,…

It’s almost that one day, the day where we look back at the past year and look forward to New Adventures in 2023.

Before we come to that day, we wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas. Hopefully, it will give you the opportunity to enjoy the warmth of each other’s company around a table full of candles, love, respect, and dignity.

Please also think of how we can help those who are not that fortunate and could benefit from our generosity.

With this we close the year 2022 for Open@Work and already look forward turning the first page of 2023. We hope to see you in that new chapter, to collaborate with each other and create more diverse and inclusive workspaces.

Wishing you and your family all the best!

Sven Vandyck, Chair OpenWork
Administrators Kathleen Van Nuffel, Christophe De Mey & Freddy Van Eeckhout

Finally, after two long years without a Belgian Pride, we are happy to announce that on 21 May 2022 Open@Work will proudly participate in the Belgian Pride.

This year’s theme is ‘OPEN’! It sounds like a call for more inclusiveness, respect and equality for LGBTI+ people. Let’s open up to the others, to their respect, their consent but also to culture and celebration!

As you all know or not Open@Work, is an intercompany platform that is continuously promoting the importance of an inclusive and diverse workplace for our LGBT+ community.

So, lot of our fellow members, such as Accenture, Actiris, Arcadis, AXA, BELDEFRAC, Deloitte, Fiscalité Brussels, GSK, LDIA, Pfizer, Proximus, Toyota, Trainbow Belgium, UCB, (…) be participating this year behind the banner of “Proud to be Open@Work”.

Dear Members, Friends, Allies

As the festive season kicks off, the nights get colder, the cards full of best wishes are being sent around and we are all dreaming of a healthy and restriction free 2022, it is time for me share with you this short letter.

I think we all agree that 2021 has been a very challenging year. While we all had to adjust to the new way of working and we had hoped to be able to live our lives again to the fullest without any vaccination certificates or mouth masks, it turned out to be slightly different.

Now ‘different’ isn’t always that bad. Some of us discovered a passion for cooking, are happy that they could spend more time with their kids, started painting, re-read their old Harry Potter books and…

Unfortunately working more from home and seeing your colleagues less was not the best for all of us. Lots of people were struggling as they suddenly found themselves living alone with limited social interactions and missing that save and inclusive work environment.

To have a safe space seems more that ever so important and this for all people, especially those who belong to a minority. So, for the New Year I would like to call upon your knowledge, strength, interest, and energy to help creating and ensure that every LGBTQIA+ has access to such a safe and inclusive workspace.

Let us inspire and help other organisations and companies to do the same. Not because it looks nice but just because it is the right thing to do. All of us deserve a space where they can be themselves and I’m convinced that if we can achieve this, the sky will be the limit.

So, with that positive feeling I would like to end this letter with wishing you a Fantastic festive season and a Great New Year. I hope to see you in person but until that moment I’m sending you a big and warm virtual hug.

Sven, Chair

To embrace the power of diversity in our society, organisations and companies, we need to focus on the importance of inclusion. With Open@Work, we continuously promote the importance of an inclusive and diverse workplace for our LGBT+ community.

With the upcoming IDAHOT celebrations, we would like to be thankful for the progress that society has made in the area of inclusion & diversity for LGBT+ people. However, there is still a lot of work to do and every day new challenges arise. Therefore, please join Open@Work and its 23 member organisations in creating a safe and inclusive workspace for everybody.

“It’s a balancing act: do I come out or not?

You might ask yourself: what do we have to fight for now?’, says Sven Vandyck, working at Accenture and chair of Open@Work, a non-profit organisation that wants to encourage companies to set up a network for LGBTQI employees in their ranks. BNP Paribas Fortis, UCB and the Belgian Defence, among others, have already done so: ‘Because discrimination happens in various forms every day. Unfortunately, something shocking must happen to draw attention to it.

The working atmosphere plays an important role because we spend so much time there, says Vandyck: ‘Company managers sometimes ask me what the business case is for paying attention to this. The bill is easily passed if people want to stay with a company because of it. You hear in exit interviews that people want to leave somewhere because they cannot be themselves. Companies must give a signal externally that they are tolerant. But it must be more than ‘pinkwashing’, they must have an inclusive vision internally as well.

If people cannot just tell you that they have a same-sex partner, you risk them crawling back into the closet, when they may have just come out during their studies.’ But bad jokes are also persistent. I recently heard the story of an employee who found a post-it on his screen every day after his lunch break with the words ‘homo! Then you can say: ‘Oh well, haha’. But you do feel targeted. It is not physical violence, but it can escalate.

Interview De Tijd Of 13 March 2021