Bi-Visibility Day 2021 has been held annually since 1999. Today marks the end of Bisexual Awareness Week, which took place this year between September 16th-23rd 2021. It is intended to raise both awareness and create visibility for bisexual people, their concerns, and experiences of discrimination. Bisexuality is also often used as an umbrella term for various bi-identities. These include, for example, bisexuals, bicurious persons, pansexuals, polysexuals, multisexuals, and omnisexuals.
The term bisexuality is formed from the Latin word “bi” (meaning “two”) and stands (literally and in binary terms) for interest in one’s own gender as well as the opposite gender. Nowadays, with the progressive dissolution of the binary norm through non-binary gender identity and other expressions of gender, there have long been discourses about how binary this sexual orientation should really be seen. It is important that each bisexual defines bisexuality for themselves, including, for example, non-binary or trans* people. As an overall definition it can be stated that bisexuality describes the attraction to two or more genders.
The symbolism behind the colors of the bisexuality flag:
- Pink represents both emotional and sexual attraction to the same gender.
- Purple stands for the “overlap,” the symbolism for interest in two or more genders.
- Blue represents the emotional as well as sexual attraction towards the opposite gender.
INTERVIEW WITH PROUT EXECUTIVE DR. FOLMA KISER, DIRECTOR AT BAYER AG
What formative experiences related to your bisexuality have you had (in the workplace)?
To be honest, few. Surprised faces is perhaps one thing and complete silence another. But a really great experience was when a colleague told me that he now dares to be open about his sexuality. He saw me on the PROUTExecutives list and is convinced that you can live your identity openly at Bayer and still have a career. That has encouraged him a lot.
How is the topic of bisexuality addressed in your workplace?
Sexuality is generally not addressed, except in the internal LGBT*IQ network BLEND and marginally in the topic of D&I.
What challenges do you face as a bisexual person or what stereotypes do you face?
I see myself less confronted with challenges as a bisexual person but more as a rainbow family in general. You can see that, for example, the terms “gay”, “lesbian” and “bi” are still used as swear words in schoolyards (and not only there) and also educators and teachers avoid the topic of LGBT*IQ and inclusion in general. Social acceptance is still difficult when the major democratic parties react here only half-heartedly. The pressure on other countries like the G7 is also not there, so same-sex marriages are not recognized in all G7 states. My wife did not even get a “residence status” in Japan, whereas our children and I got it during our stay.
What else would you have wished for your coming out?
For me, that was still at the beginning of the Internet era, more networked groups would have been great here. I think that the information available and networks in general are much better today. And also if the topic LGBT+ had been on the curriculum at school – then everyone who is not hetero-cis would have had an easier time understanding their identity.
STATEMENTS BY ACCENTURE EMPLOYEES ON THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH BISEXUALITY
Teresa Pieper – Management Consultant
Hello, my name is Teresa (she/her) and I work as a business consultant in financial services. I was 30 years old when I realized that I was attracted to people regardless of their gender.
I’ve never been uncomfortable with men, and that’s the reason I didn’t realize I was also attracted to women and other genders.
With greater visibility of people identifying as bisexual, I would have been able to recognize it much sooner and thus feel like it was a serious sexual orientation and not just “a phase” or “being confused.” Role models and a general acceptance of bi-sexuality are so important for us to show that sexuality is not just either straight or gay.
An inclusive and informative work environment helps me be myself, continue to learn, educate colleagues and friends, and feel safe when facing clients. I know my employer always has my back.
Vanessa Zimmermann – Executive Support Analyst
I wish those around me had taken it seriously and not just declared it as a “phase”. Most people were surprised and the instant reaction was usually, “You don’t look like that” – which can be frustrating.
Bisexuality is not the most present topic in the LGBT+ community, most people are open to it, but I often get negative comments like, “You need to make up your mind” or “It’s just not the real thing” – people just don’t take it seriously. For the same reasons, I was pleasantly surprised to hear about our local celebration of Bisexual Visibility Day. Some people don’t know any better, and these venues can help us raise awareness to keep moving forward toward a more inclusive work environment.
Felix Steinhardt – Digital Business Consultant
As PRIDE Lead Germany, one of my tasks is to support all members of our community as much as possible. For me, the importance of visibility is fundamental to creating a closer connection to our members and their stories. As a bisexual person, I know that sometimes it can be hard to resist the labels that others want to put on us, but hey…. there’s nothing like being proud of who you are!
Our commitment to diversity is felt everywhere and helps our teams create innovative solutions. No one has to pretend – mutual respect and empathy make us one big family.
Timona Borhanuddin – Technology Strategy & Advisory
I was born in Hamburg. However, when I was six years old, I moved back to Bangladesh with my family. Due to the cultural and traditional norms in Bangladesh, I was confronted with many stereotypes as a child and teenager. I was taught how to be the perfect housewife for a man, and that you have to get married to make your parents proud. It was not easy to break all these stereotypes.
Today, I am OUT, LOUD, and PROUD of the fact that I am successful professionally, that I stand by my bisexuality, and that I have accomplished everything on my own terms. Stereotypes are set by society, and we can overcome them if we believe in ourselves and are open about it.
Before coming to Accenture, I worked at a smaller consulting firm where I didn’t feel like I could be myself. I didn’t dare talk openly about my sexual orientation or LGBT+ issues at my previous employer. That’s all the more reason why, when I changed employers, I made sure I was seen as a person. I firmly believe that we all work better and are more successful as a team when we create an open and tolerant environment where we can respect each other and all be ourselves.
At Accenture, you are motivated and supported to bring your authentic self to the workplace.If that means talking about your sexual orientation, you should be able to do so easily.
Accenture promotes an inclusive workplace and creates an environment where everyone can develop and flourish and be themselves to the best of their ability with special LGBT+ training, mentoring programs and a modern understanding of leadership and open exchange.
The statements are based on the personal experiences and opinions of employees and therefore do not reflect the opinions of Accenture or Bayer.
TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Big Impact Initiative Award:
RBg of the Bosch Group
This year’s Big Impact Initiative Award was presented to the Bosch Group’s RBg network, which – over the course of the year and in particular during the 2018 Pride season – organised numerous campaigns to enhance the visibility of LGBTIQ people as a work-related topic in society. They do not confine their efforts to their own company, but also use their presence to draw attention to the activities of other companies and organisations. Never before has the topic of equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people in professional life been discussed as much as this year – and this is due in large part to this network!
Rising Star Award:
GLOW by Sandoz
The network, which was founded in 2017, was able to gain the active support and involvement of the firm’s Head of Global HR as well as its Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion, thus creating the basis for a high level of support. Furthermore, the foundation was laid for positioning the network at a global level in close cooperation with the D&I Global Team, and the visibility of LGBTIQ people was actively increased both internally and externally! The clearly defined goals and strategic interconnection are already making the network an opinion-former, and the message to the LGBTIQ Community is:
You are welcome here, you belong to us!
Global Leader Network Award:
PRIDE at Accenture
Time and again the company has improved the situation of LGBTIQ people in Germany with the help of its strong Out Executives. By acting strategically and conducting thoughtful campaigns, the network is furthermore pursuing a global approach on all key levels of the company and is extending the boundaries of what is possible for LGBTIQ people, in particular in countries with LGBTIQ-hostile structures. In keeping with the slogan “ONE global Network, 44 Countries, ONE global policy“, they ensure that LGBTIQ diversity is dealt with in an exemplary manner within their own company and beyond.