Interview with Stuart Cameron: Finding LGBTQIA-friendly employers in Berlin

Portrait of Stuart Cameron, CEO UHLALA Group Berlin
Portrait of Stuart Cameron, CEO UHLALA Group Berlin

Berlin is colourful. Berlin is diverse. But just how LGBTQIA-friendly are employers in Berlin really? And how can I go about finding them? We asked expert Stuart Bruce Cameron (41). Here is what he said.

Stuart is founder and CEO of the UHLALA Group and has been engaging with issues of diversity and LGBTQIA in the workplace for 13 years. His group provides support to employers in order to help them take a more active approach to the community, as well as works to strengthen empowerment within the LGBTQIA community itself. The primary aim is to create a link between employees and employers so that both can develop together. UHLALA Group achieves this through education, events, presentations, panels, competitions and directly matching people to open job positions.

“Every third job is found through a network. This is something with which many people are still unfamiliar. We empower the community by getting people to network and by leveraging synergies within the professional aspects of life” says Stuart. More solidarity, a greater presence, and mutual support - these are the drivers behind the work of the UHLALA Group.

How can I go about finding LGBTQIA-friendly employers in Berlin?

This is not particularly easy. There is not currently any legislation in place defining standards that could be used to identify LGBTQIA-friendly employers. A good idea would be to ask friends and acquaintances about the culture within the companies that they work for.

Many companies provide information on their websites about what they do with regards to diversity. It is important to check whether their definition of diversity also includes LGBTQIA. Large companies with 1000+ employees will often have an employee LGBTQIA network.

You are also welcome to attend our events where you can meet various companies. Although not all of these companies are champions of LGBTQIA issues, all are willing to make changes for the better.

We have also developed the Pride Champion employer seal. Whilst not yet widely in use, all companies with this seal have demonstrated that they have structures in place to protect employees against discrimination and provide them with support.

In the case of smaller companies, you will often find out quickly if they are LGBTQIA-friendly. For example, if an employee or even the boss is already out, then this is a clear sign of openness in the workplace.

How can I tell if an employer is LGBTQIA-friendly?

The best way to find out is during the interview! Directly ask employers about what actions they are taking in regards to diversity management, particularly LGBTQIA! If you receive an answer along the lines of “we don’t do anything. Everyone is equal in our company”, then this can be a clear indicator that they do not engage with the issue and therefore a bad sign. It’s not about outing yourself to them right away. It’s more about checking when they are actively doing. Active engagement is a sign of friendliness. A passive attitude is generally not.

What do you believe has already been achieved in regards to LGBTQIA acceptance and what still needs to be done?

The issue is very much on the agenda again. Unfortunately, we currently see large companies and organisations focusing too heavily on the issue, and smaller companies not enough. Many companies continue to believe that simply putting out a rainbow flag each year in June is all they need to do. I would like to see a more genuine focus on LGBTQIA in the field of diversity management. Companies need someone who feels they can take charge of the issue and drive it forward.

I think its wonderful that the younger generation is currently speaking louder than ever before. This forces companies to act. I hope that more companies will join in and focus on the issue all year round. There is certainly quite a way yet to go, but we’ve made a good start.

How friendly is Berlin for LGBTQIA people compared to other cities around the world?

Berlin is an open city. LGBTQIA people can enjoy a good life here. Berlin provides safe spaces. Unlike other cities, there is a link between personal and professional LGBTQIA cultures in Berlin. In Berlin you will find LGBTQIA-friendly companies and at least as many clubs and other activities that are open to the community. Berlin is certainly not up there with San Francisco or Amsterdam for LGBTQIA people, but is comparable to cities like London. Far ahead of the rest.

How can newcomers to the city find their way into the community?

For personal interests, the city magazine Siegessäule is a good place to look. Newcomers can find out everything they need to know about queer culture in the city there. When it comes to work, take a look at what we have to offer. We have developed a range of brands and products aimed at helping you network in both German and English - for example, Unicorns in Tech is a global network for the LGBTQIA community, or there is our Proudr business community, a free app with events calendar.