The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has introduced a 3% ‘inclusion’ benchmark to encourage its LGBT employees to feel confident in “bringing their whole selves to work”. Why does the ATO need that benchmark when the development of self-confidence is ultimately the individual adult’s responsibility?

This is in the context of a question, asked for the first time last year in the Australian Public Service (APS) Commission’s annual survey. APS employees were asked if they identified as LGBT, and fair enough, for informational purposes. But doesn’t that already send the message to LGBT public servants that it’s okay for them to come out of the closet at work if they choose to? Of course, there’s a time and place for such topics in the workplace, and that’s an informal social negotiation between employees. However, the workplace is not a social experiment for the diversity and inclusion mob to force onto the organisation. It is disrespectful of diversity of opinion and beliefs.

Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert said that the 3% target is a “benchmark against which future statistics can be compared”, after all, the ATO began recording last year whether staff self-identified as LGBT. Probably not for informational purposes after all.

There should be no repercussions for coming out of the closet, nor should there be any repercussions for disagreeing with LGBT lifestyles. So why enforce an ‘inclusion’ benchmark? Isn’t that exclusionary, heterophobic and cisphobic? Won’t this initiative incentivise cisgender heterosexuals to pretend to come out of the closet for career advancement purposes? After all, the ATO said LGBT visibility had increased within the organisation by 0.5% since the question in question was introduced.

The ATO said that it valued employee diversity, and said that their staff deserve to “feel safe and comfortable in being themselves in the workplace”. The caveat implied is that Conservative need not to apply/remain. The Australian taxpayer deserve better, especially from the people who collect their taxes and spend some of it on administering the Tax Office.

Everyone deserves to feel welcome at work regardless of their sexuality and gender, but respect is a two-way street, and quotas are just straight-up (no pun intended) disrespectful. As a lesbian transwoman who’s had her fair share of condescending experiences in life, I’d like to think that my career progression in my workplace is completely blind to my sexuality and gender. “Feeling yourself” just got less empowering.

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