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AccountingWEB’s stand on workplace Pride

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As Pride month comes to a close, Joanne Birtwistle explains why articles around diversity, equality and inclusion have a place on AccountingWEB. 

 

24th Jun 2022
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Here at AccountingWEB one of the ways we mark Pride month is by publishing articles that share the experiences and stories of LGBT+ individuals from within the accountancy and finance profession, as well as publishing thought provoking content around advocacy and allyship.

Being your true self

I’d like to thank everyone who puts time, effort and considerable thought into writing these articles for us and, this year, Ben Steele in particular. Ben wrote an articulate piece about how being open and honest to clients about his sexuality had given him increased personal confidence and led to practice growth. In the piece he also shared why he feels there is still more to be done for people to feel they can be their true selves in the workplace.

Ben is right - it’s one of the reasons we continue to share perspectives on how accountants can work to change perceptions of the profession so that it is more inclusive - and his point was proven by one of the reader comments before moderation quickly stepped in.

An individual’s right to bring their whole and authentic self to work was recognised by many of our Accounting Excellence Awards entries this year, with many firms outlining how diverse perspectives drive better-informed decision-making, and stimulate innovative thinking within their business. Almost every submission that I read talked about the need to attract new, more diverse talent to the profession.

DEI and AccountingWEB

I accept that the articles we publish around diversity, equality and inclusion are not the core reason many of our readers visit AccountingWEB on a daily basis. We know that it’s the tax, tech, and a solid IR35 case that gets you most excited. But conversations about opening doors to more diversity in the workplace and moving the profession forward should also be on the menu.

A well curated site should give you exactly what you want, whilst also offering up what you didn’t know you need to know, a bit of food for thought and a little bit of challenge.

Some readers may say Pride month is of no interest and we say, that’s your choice to pass on by and head straight for the bread and butter content that we will always write. And yet, here’s the funny thing, so often these individuals choose not to do that. And then they post an antagonistic comment.

Moderation

I’ve said it before but I’ve never worked at another media organisation with such a highly engaged and interactive community. It is one of the things that makes AccountingWEB unique and I think it is a stand-out positive. 

But sometimes it can cause us AWEBers sleepless nights - as is the way with social media, we spend the most time considering how best to handle the noisy minority. It is something we take very seriously - we have a full-time member of staff whose job it is to moderate the site and engage with the community - both through the comments on our articles and on the Any Answers pages.

We want to encourage free and open discussion but we also have an obligation to monitor and moderate, ensuring comments are respectful and absolutely not homophobic, racist or sexist. And if the point you want to make falls into any of the above categories then frankly, there is no room for it on AccountingWEB.

Sharing stories without reprisal

Self-assessment season is one of the site’s busiest periods for traffic but from a moderation perspective the summer months are busier - we wonder whether that’s because some of you find yourselves with perhaps a little more time on your hands?! 

If that statement was controversial enough to get the responses flying in, the wider readership won’t find out because comments are being turned off for this and most other columns or articles that specifically relate to Pride or diversity, equality and inclusion in the profession. This is so that we can highlight examples of progress and share stories, without those individuals having to worry about reprisal.

We can and do ban people but they often reappear, and I appreciate that anonymity has an important function that is appreciated by the wider community, as it allows the Any Answers forum to work the way it should.

So for now, we think this is the best way to reasonably deal with comments that will inevitably come from a minority of individuals, without the job of moderation taking a disproportionate amount of time. 

The other option would be to stop publishing content on these important issues. And we are not going to do that.