Practical Insights for Celebrating Pride and Creating Inclusive Workplace

Our Author of the Month, Chris Grady, shares his experiences as a bisexual creative business life coach, theatremaker, and director of CGO Institute. In this blog post, Chris challenges us to create more inclusive and diverse environments in both our personal lives and society. From the importance of open conversations to the power of amplifying individual voices, Chris offers practical insights on how we can continue to celebrate Pride month beyond June and work towards creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace year-round.

Greetings and thanks for exploring my world with me. I’m Chris Grady and the author of The Anatomy of Your Creativity. I’m based near Edinburgh in Scotland and balance my time between supporting creatives as they move into their chosen artistic pathways (my coaching practice) and, hopefully, inspiring the next generation of creative producers to understand showbusiness and the business of show (my teaching practice). I’ve worked with producers in Brazil, Mexico, USA, Germany, Estonia, Australia, Russia, China and Korea. Everyone thinks the grass is greener in another country or territory, and my aim is to help make transnational connections and inspire new collaborations (what has been called my ‘hyphen’ practice)

A quote you live by or favorite piece of advice

​”Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  Mary Oliver.  This quote often leads me to explore with people what they dream of doing, what drives them to want to change the world one day (or one show) at a time.  My role is then to encourage, connect, and sometimes mentor them.

Tell us about your eBook

Firstly, I must pay tribute to two people, the late David Cox who generously invited me to plunder his excellent Creative Thinking for Dummies. And also, to my wife and creative empowerment specialist Kath Burlinson who has, for over 20 years, opened my eyes to new possibilities and given me chances to meet amazing artists.  Whilst the title credit for The Anatomy of Your Creativity is mine, the royalties are shared between Kath, myself, and the widow of David Cox.

In writing this short book, following on from my careers guide Your Life in Theatre, I wanted to bring so many examples and tools which I have encountered in the theatre world and offer them in ways which could resonate with business leaders and those who are following a path far away from the theatrical spotlight.

As I wrote for Bookboon in 2016 “Being in business can be lonely. Being in small business or sole trading can be emotionally and creatively challenging.  In big business there are pressures from all sides, and occasionally they harness together and great things happen. In small business we are likely to be the driver, the innovator, the energizer and the place where the buck stops.  We have similar life challenges whether we are a small cog in a giant machine, a big wheel with many connections to smaller cogs, or whether you are the machine with your money, mind, spirit and heart connected to your venture.” 

This book seeks to give some simple tools for you to embody. Just to give it some shape, I have used the human skeleton as a structure – from dipping your toe in the water to the crowning glory.  Throughout there are moments where I suggest you take time to play with an exercise. Some of them I use with every single client I meet, others I use for very specific areas of work.  I hope you enjoy them.

How can we create more inclusive and diverse environments, both in our personal lives and in the wider society?

I was kindly asked to be Author of the Month because I identify as Bisexual – one of the lesser talked about letters in the LGBTQI+ ever expanding letter identities.  I am old enough now to speak my truth and to begin to understand myself and my queer and straight community through lived experience. I work in and around artists and the creative industries which has also allowed/empowered people to be more open about themselves.  In the arts, we tend to live and work in our hobby/passion. We don’t tend to have a ‘day job’ and then a private life which may be very different. [That is a vast generalization, but you get my point]. I am blessed to have a family which accepts me for who I am, and lifetime work colleagues who knew I wasn’t ‘straight’ years before I acknowledged it for myself.

So, in answer to this question – Those who can be open can help others by being open. Those who are in a position of influence can and should live by inclusive practice (and never just tick-box or have it as a worthy intent on their website).   I feel that students and young people are the guides for better practice which we older folk need. Their openness to talk about the 9 protected characteristics should be welcomed and encouraged. ( There are many, many folks across the world who are in fear of their freedoms, or are part of a cultural community where this open conversation is difficult if not dangerous.  We all have to seek ways to help them also feel inclusive and safe in our more open world.

In theatre terms a previous producing student of mine described audiences as two types – the Reflected and the Change Audience. The Reflected Audience want to see their stories and their lived experience on stage. They want to see people like them in the spotlight (whether that is on stage or in a company boardroom).   The Change Audience wants to be challenged to learn about a world they have never lived.  I am often a member of the change community. I am not part of the Global Majority. I have been lucky enough to begin life in a loving environment and lived my life able to put food on my table and keep a roof over my head.  I am a man in a patriarchal society.  I have never been oppressed.  I learn about others through the sharing of those with lived experience.

Whatever society we may be responsible for creating, or part of, I feel it is our duty to encourage the broadening of our community so it reflects our world society make up as a whole. And we have a duty to learn and put into practice ways to be more inclusive.  I’m not the future of theatre or any community I am part of – my task is to encourage the future entrepreneurs and leaders to look, feel, and act in a more inclusive way.

How can we continue to celebrate Pride month beyond June and work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive society and workplace year-round?

I was taught in school to read all the questions first before starting to answer any of them. I sense I have not remembered that lesson and you will find much in the paragraphs above which offer thoughts on this question.   But if the question above was divergent thinking, then let me use this one for convergent thought.

Byron Katie talks of My Business, Your Business and God’s Business.  In my interpretation this means that we should focus on ourselves and what we do, feel, think, and how we behave to others.  We cannot waste time worrying about what someone else could, should, must, hasn’t or might do. That’s their business. My business is to get on with what I can do.  And there are times when the world and our universe are hit by things which are way beyond my individual power to influence (What Byron Katie refers to as God’s business).  We have all been through the Covid years and we are all witness and global participants in massive terrifying ecological change. These do impact our lives and our business.  We can individually live differently and act differently – that is within our power. And in many ways we can also individually come together to make global change.  

Pride in June is one time when we can all come together and amplify our individual voices by working together. Bookboon is doing just that, by inviting individuals to speak about their lives and hopes, and bringing this together and amplifying the message.   We in the UK love Festivals. It is a time to harness ideas, voices, and external attention on a theme – be that music at Glastonbury or LGBTQI+ with Pride.

My hope I hold the theme of Pride and equality and equity in my heart throughout the year.  Yes, I will forget at times. Yes, I will be a white privileged old male bringing my prejudices into any room.  But my personal task, every day of the year, is to open myself to be a Change audience or change maker and watch out to ensure that my community develops to be more Reflective of society as a whole.  I must find the strength to call it out when I see bad practice. I must surround myself with people who have broader lived experience than me – and learn all the time from them.

What would you like to add?

Bisexuality is a strangely hidden aspect of the LGBTQI+.  Most of us know Same Sex couples and are comfortable with films and TV which centre of the gay and lesbian characters. The Trans community has been the focus of much debate and we are far more aware of the global challenges faced by those who need to transition to be true to their inner selves. I honour those who have been at the forefront of this segment of society, and hope anyone in a position of influence will help to make a difference to trans rights and lives in their world. But maybe I am surprised at how quiet the bisexual community chooses to be.  Some say the straight community feel threatened by us. Others say that it is about being greedy, or something we will get over. I can’t speak for others. All I can worry about is My Business – and I will continue to make sure those I work with know I am bisexual and stay comfortable in my skin.

If reading this article prompts you to think a little differently or reminds you of the Equity or Equality policy you haven’t considered enough – then you are like me. In writing this article I realise I have not talked to my equality team of advisors for too long, and that I will look at getting back into the Bi discussion group in Edinburgh.  I’d better get on with my business.

Thank you so much Bookboon for inviting me to write.