Diversity course proves huge hit after being launched by Shropshire activists

A trio who put equality and diversity at the top of the agenda by launching a new business training course six months ago have had a huge response from businesses wanting to know more.

Robin Jakumeit, Ruth Sabini-Roberts and G Sabini-Roberts who launched The Queer Box in October
Robin Jakumeit, Ruth Sabini-Roberts and G Sabini-Roberts who launched The Queer Box in October

G Sabini-Roberts and Ruth Sabini-Roberts, both from Gobowen, joined forces with Robin Jakumeit, from Stafford, to set up The Queer Box in October.

The Queer Friendly Business Course ­– which aims to show businesses all they need to know about being inclusive of all genders and sexualities – has since been completed by multiple business owners and employees who gave glowing reviews.

Natalie Lewis, who owns Dynamic HR Services in Cheshire, is one of those who have completed the course.

She said: “I know about diversity from an employment law perspective, but I don’t have an in depth appreciation so this was something I saw as an opportunity.

“I’ve had diversity training but it’s on race, religion and other subjects, very little is actively focused on the LGBTQ+ community.

“We realised very quickly that many of the processes that we support our clients with were not set up for a non binary person and we should have been on it.

“Since the course, we realised that HR software rarely has an Mx option and that our application forms only asked male or female. More that we are now aware of are; signs on toilets, not to assume gender but put pronouns in email signatures and to be aware of the language that we use.

“The course was really useful in highlighting important changes, it was easy to absorb and had a really useful definitions guide that comes with it.

“It helped understanding and recognising the practicalities, what we need to do in business to encourage acceptance and diversity – having more detailed process in place to make people feel safe no matter who they are.

“This course could work for a lot of people, I’d like to encourage others, my clients, restaurant owners, parents, anyone can learn and be proactive on being inclusive.”

G, Ruth and Robin provide advice and training for businesses in gender, sexuality and relationship diversity. It evolved after G sparked discussion on social media on the subject and was approached with questions and requests to share guidance across different forums.

The group have appeared on a raft of podcasts such as Our Queer Experience and Habits to talk about the success of the course.

It has been so well received that the group are now planning to expand the range to offer training to education providers and other groups.

G said: “We are thrilled with the response we have had from businesses who have taken the course.

“Lots of people had learned that there was more to gender and sexuality inclusion than they had thought, and that even though their intentions were good, they had been inadvertently causing offence.

“People who are not an active part of the community themselves said they have understood where prejudice is still a part of business practices and learnt how to best implement changes to make their business more inclusive.

“With more than five decades of experience in LGBTQ+ community development, activism and training, we can steer businesses to be inclusive, and in turn can help to combat the prejudice and wider effects that LGBTQ+ people experience.

“As business owners we not only have a moral obligation to support inclusivity, but we have an opportunity to be leaders and pioneers in celebrating diversity in everything that we do.”

A Credit Suisse study showed that openly LGBTQ-positive businesses out-performed their competitors by three per cent a year, from 2010 to 2016. By 2019, this figure had risen to an average of six-and-a-half per cent, according to a study by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The Queer Box can support businesses through video training, Zoom discovery calls, and in-person training courses, following Covid-19 safety guidelines.

G is non-binary and has been an LGBTQ+ activist, organiser, facilitator and trainer since 1996. They have been running the successful Oswestry-based brand design agency Branding by G since 2012. Ruth has been involved in LGBTQ+ activism since 2002. She joined G in running Branding by G in 2019.

Robin is a non-binary academic who runs workshops for the LGBTQ+ community and has been involved in activism and policy making since 2010. Their work focuses on gender, sexuality and relationship diversities.

To find out more about The Queer Box please visit thequeerbox.co.uk/ or https://www.facebook.com/thequeerbox

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