Pride in Diversity: pink-washing and bisexual erasure, together at last!

Having been struck by the 'WHAT the fuck' definition of bisexual as "Someone who is attracted to people of the same gender and other genders" in a recent LGBT Foundation document, I thought I'd look to see 'WHERE the fuck' they got that phrase from.

It turns out that, I started talking about it, Google knew of exactly one use of it.

It's in a document published by 'Pride in Diversity', which is an Australian "national not-for-profit employer support program for LGBTQ workplace inclusion specialising in HR, organisational change and workplace diversity".

I'd say it looks a bit like the corporate bits of Stonewall, down to doing a "Workplace Equality Index" "from which Top Employers (sic) for LGBTQ people is (sic) determined", but they want money before you can see much more. (Ker-pink-ching!)

They also want about £140 for an individual ticket to the awards ceremony. (Ker-pink-CHING!)

You probably got a discount for a table of 12, but at some point between 13th Feb when they weren't on sale and 2nd March this year, those had all sold out. (KER-pink-CHING!)

I'm not saying the results are completely useless, but for last year's survey, they did two reports: 'all employers' and 'small employers' (probably up to 200 employees). Neither broke down LGBTI employees responses to their survey by sexual orientation, beyond just saying that bi and pan respondents made up 22.6% (and queer-identified ones another 4.4%),* so it's impossible to see if they have a different experience.

In the small employers report, they had an amazing.. thirty one (31) responses in total for this bit of the survey. They still give percentages to two decimal places though! No indications of statistical significance are given anywhere.

Anyway…

Fortunately, Google does link to the document itself.

It's from 2018, and is a 'best practice guide' to employers looking to have their Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) policy cover LGBTI staff.

Before I got to the definitions appendix, I was particularly struck by the first forword, by someone at IBM..

.. yes, that IBM, the IBM that actively and profitably helped enable the Holocaust..

.. claiming that "A foundation principle of our company has been 'Respect for the Individual'."

If you're looking for an example of 'pink-washing', you can't do much better than that, really

The main content of the guide looks ok. It specifically says LGBTI DFV includes all DFV involving a bisexual person "regardless of the gender of their partner", for a start.

Similarly, the second factor about risk of DFV says "Identifying as bisexual or trans or gender diverse can be a greater risk factor", and one sample of LGBTI-specific emotional and psychological abuse is "Dismissing or challenging a bisexual person’s sexuality, telling them bisexuality doesn't exist or that they need to 'choose'"..

.. but that's all the uses of 'bisexual*', apart from expanding the LGBTI acronym and the title of a couple of references in the main 57 pages of the guide.

The definitions are in an appendix. It acknowledges that..

Some of the definitions are simplified and this list is not intended to provide a complete overview of each term, particularly those related to LGBTI identities

.. before saying 'Bisexual' is ..

Typically used to refer to someone who is attracted to both men and women, but it can also be used to describe someone who is attracted to people of the same gender and other genders. It is sometimes used interchangeably with pansexual, which refers to someone who is attracted to any sex/gender.

I'm not going to argue that the first phrase isn't accurate – whether we like it or not, it is typically used to refer to 'someone who is attracted to both men and women' and it's also very likely that the majority of bisexual people are 'attracted to both men and women', whether they're attracted to other genders or not – it's just incomplete.

I'd love to know WTF they got the second half of the sentence from. As I say, this appears to be its first usage anywhere Google knows about.

Jumping into the pan / bi issue like that, without having a separate pan definition, is not something I'd want to do in such a document…

.. but perhaps they do things differently in Australia, because curiously, after acknowledging that gender is not seen as binary by everyone, and specifically including non-binary and intersex people in the list of definitions..

.. their definition of 'Gay' is..

Used to describe someone who is attracted to people of the same sex and not the opposite sex; used to describe both men and women

(emphasis mine)

.. which is fascinatingly strict that only Kinsey-attraction 6 – exclusively attracted to own sex – counts as 'gay'.

I'd say it's a throwback to 1980s lesbian separatist theory, except that they also don't ever give a definition of 'Lesbian'! (Mind you, the document barely uses the word, outside references and expanding LGBTI either.)

Of course, it says 'Heterosexual' is..

Used to describe someone who is attracted to the opposite sex.

.. so it thinks – if you treat 'opposite sex' as meaning 'another gender' – that every bisexual person is 'heterosexual'. (But no gay people!)

So.. not really somewhere you'd want to copy your definitions from, really

That document was also in a bundle that Pride in Diversity sent to the 'National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces' who published it, along with several hundred other responses.

Two of the others in the bundle were a blank workplace equality index score card, and a very short document on workplace harassment – the topic of the consultation!

It split respondents into "Same Sex Attracted", "Same and Other Sex Attracted" – so you can see the hoops they jump through around this definition of bisexual – and "Asexual", "Trans/Gender Diverse", "Agender", and "Intersex". There's no split of the results by sexual orientation.

The final document in the bundle was called "Where are all the women?". It was written in conjunction with accountants / consultants PwC's GLEE ('Gay, Lesbian and Everyone Else'**) group and is "Research into the low visibility and engagement of same‐sex attracted women in the workplace".

They really do like the 'same sex attraction is all we care about', don't they?

The 'executive summary' starts of by showing they had 1,270 women respond, and they divide those into..

65% 'same sex attracted'
30% 'bisexual'
5% 'other'.

Yes, the people who say that 'bisexual' means "Someone who is attracted to people of the same gender and other genders" also say 'bisexual' is different to 'same sex attracted'!?

What the fuck?

It does, of course, get worse.

For example, when they then go on to say that "Younger same-sex attracted women were less likely to be out in the workplace".. does that include the bisexual ones or not? It should.. but if so, WTF split them like that on the previous page?

It does, of course, get worse.

One of the pull quotes from respondents on another page is

I'm bisexual but dating a man so feel it doesn't count.

Given that a pair of supposedly 'LGBT' organisations count bisexual women as not 'same sex attracted', why might that respondent possibly think that 'doesn't count'?

Another one talks about "L&B [Lesbian and Bi‐sexual] cis women are MASSIVELY under represented at LGBTQI events" which, as well as having a hyphen in 'bisexual' (and there's no hyphen in 'bisexual') that the authors of the report have clearly added, sounds a more than a bit TERFy. If the respondent isn't, why didn't they just say 'women are MASSIVELY under represented at LGBTQI events'?

It does, of course, get worse.

In the methodology section, and perhaps showing just how much the 'everyone else' of the GLEE title is there merely to make up the acronym, they say this:

The survey was initially focused on gay/lesbian women because one of our initial hypotheses was that their experiences were different to bisexual women.

What the actual fuck?!?

The bunch of people who think that bisexual women only count as LGBTI if they're attracted to the same gender thought that bisexual women's experiences would be different to lesbian ones, so they focused on lesbians.. without, it seems, bothering to check if their prejudice was in any way right?!?

They did realise they were wrong about that:

However, hearing from bisexual women during the interviews highlighted the importance of including this group in the survey. We therefore extended the scope of the survey to same-sex attracted women.

.. so having included bi women as 'same-sex attracted', they then have them not included as 'same sex attracted' at the very start of the executive summary!

What the fuck?

I wonder how much it was gay- / lesbian- / queer-identified bisexual women who were the ones they did interview at first who got the basic message over. If so, hooray (as ever) to non-bi identified bisexuals for having much more of a clue than this bunch.

They do realise that it's all a bit confusing:

References to gay women within the survey, despite intending to refer to same-sex attracted women, likely resulted in self-exclusion of other same-sex attracted women, including those who identify as bisexual or queer.

Quite!

There are seventeen actual pages of findings and conclusions. Bisexual women are mentioned in exactly one place in all that, in relation to being out at work:

Bisexual respondents were less than half as likely to be out compared to women attracted to only females (38% compared to 78%). Importantly, bisexual women were significantly less likely to believe that being out at work is important (50% to 80%). They also have one of the smallest gaps between being comfortable to be out within the workplace compared to outside of work, suggesting a broader societal challenge for this group of people (43% to 59%).

Do any of the conclusions and recommendations address that? Ha!

At no other point are responses looked at by sexual orientation.

Among the five credited authors is one PwC 'manager', one PwC 'senior manager', and one PwC 'partner'.

Getting PwC in as consultants is very expensive. In the UK, according to an undated PwC price list, the lowest sort of manager would be billed to clients at about £495 per hour, plus 20% VAT no doubt. Each. A specialist partner would set you back nearly twice as much at £974+VAT per hour.

Let's hope the quality of the results you get for that is better than this crap.

* Astonishingly, 'gay/lesbian' were joined together (70.8%) so I can't even see how many lesbians responded! The balance is asexuals and 'prefer not to say'.

** Cringe.

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