#traineediaries: Outlaw Network Breakfast Briefing #lgbt+
It was with sleepy eyes and a brisk stride paired with a warm coat, scarf and gloves and brimming with excitement when I set off on the morning of the 11th February 2020 bright and early to Sir John Rogerson's Quay to the offices of McCann Fitzgerald for the first Outlaw Network event of 2020, a breakfast briefing entitled 'LGBT+ Bullying in the Workplace'.
The commute that morning was that bit different to my usual routine since I am usually awake one hour later during the week and my journey to the office is closer to the centre of the city, but making my way to the docklands on the Luas among fellow early-risers, it was quite a sight seeing Dublin just as it was rising up from the night into dawn, to cross the Samuel Beckett bridge towards my destination just as the sky was brightening to a new day.
I was warmly welcomed by the event organisers and staff of McCann Fitzgerald the moment I stepped in the door, making my way up to the floor where the event was taking place where there were many attendees chatting and networking. The atmosphere was warm and enthusiastic, following the trend of previous events presented by the Outlaw Network.
There was a great overall turnout, especially given the recent cold snap sweeping the country as well the early start of 8: 00 a.m. sharp, which was no real feat for the regular early birds who I very much would love to emulate more often!
There was a wonderful selection of food for the breakfast: natural yoghurt with mixed fruit and granola, strawberry smoothies, mini croissants, pain au chocolate and other assorted pastries, as well as plenty of tea and coffee (to help with the networking energy, of course!)
After helping myself to food and a cup of coffee, catching up with a few of my peers from Blackhall, the attendees were then brought into the main meeting room with a stunning view of the docklands and the river with the sun now shining in the brighter blue sky.
For the event, there were three fantastic speakers presenting on the topic of workplace harassment and bullying towards the LGBT+ community
Kicking off the talk was Dr. Des Ryan, a prolific barrister and advocate for employment law gave many insights into the law and statistics surrounding bullying and harassment, along with useful relevant case citations for any possible claim that the lawyers in the room may face in the future.
His passion and enthusiasm brought this often serious and maligned topic to life, and certainly gave much food for thought going forward.
The second speaker of the day was Damien McGrath, representative of the INTO LGBT+ Teachers' group, who spoke eloquently from the perspective of a teacher who has experienced the effect of what targeted bullying entails and told a remarkable story of how the group was founded in 2004, and how it has grown in strength over the past decade and a half, with a charming remark that the Outlaw Network was in its infancy having been founded in 2019.
Mr. McGrath's story was moving and a genuine example of how such bullying can affect a person in their daily professional life, and he even presented an example notice of how the group encourages inclusivity in the teacher staff-room with directions on how to better include LGBT+ members of staff.
Last but by certainly no means least, Debra Fakeye, President of Youth Work Ireland, spoke passionately as a young person freshly entered into the world of work about the importance of identity and safety for young people, to give them safeguards and support for when they begin their careers, and to prepare them fully for what bullying may happen. Another vital aspect was the issue of sex education for LGBT+ students in schools, to make it more clear and accessible for those students, to give them that safety and that same care and attention.
Debra's perspective was refreshing and as an aspiring lawyer herself, it was wonderful to hear of the amazing work and accomplishments she has had at the outset of her career.
Her determination was incredibly inspiring and her speech received a standing ovation from all in attendance.
Overall, the variety and the wealth of information offered at this event was interesting, relevant and fascinating. The issues that were discussed are of great relevance not just to the solicitors and barristers who may assist a person who is the victim of such things in the future, but also to anyone who may face such difficulties in their own offices.
With two viewpoints coming from outside the legal profession, it offered a rounded view of what workplace harassment and bullying is and how it could occur, and how the legal profession can continue to improve its position, to represent those who have been the victims of such bullying or harassment, and how to become more self aware of any behaviours that could potentially upset a fellow colleague in the workplace.
As I write and reflect on this event, it is worthwhile for me to take a quick look back into the past to trace just how far I have come and how much I have evolved and improved my personal development.
Truthfully, two years ago, I would not have been comfortable walking into such an event, even among my peers in the legal profession and those who I studied with in Blackhall during the professional practice course. My nerves would have won out and I would not have had the chance to attend or hear the amazing speakers.
Much of it is down to practice. To practice confidence, to practice awareness, to practice mindfulness.
I also am immensely grateful for the experiences of networking training presented by excellent trainers in Junior Chamber International Ireland, particularly Derek Reilly, a former National President of JCI Ireland and JCI Dublin and currently the head of the Conference Organising Committee for the JCI Europe European Conference 2020, who gave a particularly useful tip about navigating a room with the many groups that can form in a room, whether they are open or closed, to pay attention to the number of people in any circle, to hold the head up from the phone screen and to have that confidence of ease to strike up a conversation.
With all I have learned and all the positive affirmations gathered along the way since moving to Dublin, I felt so much at ease, and it was also down to the fantastic organisers bringing together LGBT+ members of the profession and their allies in a positive, welcoming space.
One of my main intentions for 2020 is to do my best to spend my mornings in a more productive and affirming manner, to be able to walk out the door with a spring in my step, and I was glad to be able to have the chance to do that with this morning event.
So the next time you are browsing EventBrite for something to do of a morning if you have that extra bit of energy, then I would recommend attending at least one or two breakfast briefings on a topic that you are interested in or wish to discover more about. It does make getting out of bed that bit easier when it is something to look forward to.
You never know how it may help you become a better morning person over time. Though bear in mind, it may be a work in progress when beds are so comfortable, but it is definitely worth it to start the day off in an aspirational and inspirational way.
Thank you for reading!
You can find out more about the Outlaw Network, the INTO LGBT+ group and Youth Work Ireland at the links below and please follow the Outlaw Network on their social media and subscribe to their newsletter for news and more upcoming events.
Outlaw Network: http://www.outlawnetwork.ie/
INTO LGBT+ Teachers' Group: https://www.into.ie/about/our-structure/associated-groups/into-lgbt-teachers-group/
Youth Work Ireland: https://www.youthworkireland.ie/
Outlaw Network's Harassment and Bullying Policy: http://www.outlawnetwork.ie/outlaw-networks-bullying-and-harassment-policy-for-events/