More than 12,000 marchers and 300,000 spectators are expected to descend on inner Sydney this weekend as the 39th annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade takes off this Saturday evening.
Born from a night of protest in 1978, Mardi Gras has become an enduring symbol of Sydney’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) community and next year will enjoy its 40th birthday. The parade celebrates diversity and inclusion as well as highlighting social and political challenges that lie ahead.
It also brings to a close the two-week festival of performances, movies, music and community events.
The theme of this year’s Mardi Gras is “Creating Equality”, and in particular, as the Mardi Gras website highlights, to “shine our spotlight brightly on ways we can work together to eliminate discrimination and prejudice in all its forms”.
This year, CBA staff members will march with the Pride in Diversity (PiD) float – one of more than 180 expected to make the journey down Oxford and Flinders streets – along with several other representatives of banking, financial, community, telco, not-for-profit and other organisations.
An initiative of the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON), PiD is Australia’s first and only not-for-profit workplace program assisting Australian employers with the inclusion of LGBTI employees.
The Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), launched in 2010 and compiled each year by PiD, is the country’s definitive national benchmark on LGBTI workplace inclusion. It comprises the only national employee survey designed to gauge the overall impact of inclusion initiatives on organisational culture as well as on LGBTI identifying and non-identifying employees.
Last year, CommBank’s LGBTI and allies network, Unity, was honoured to be awarded the LGBTI Network of the Year as assessed against AWEI criteria. The network has firmly entrenched itself within the CBA in every Australian state, as well as in the US, UK, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
The bank is now also recognised as the country’s second-most LGBTI-inclusive employer, finishing second overall of the top 20 employers for AWEI’s LGBTI Inclusion Awards – a result it hopes to improve on in 2017.