AGL welcomes everyone…

Australian energy company AGL invites everyone…to suffer.

AGL is Australia’s biggest polluter but has also won awards for diversity inclusion, indicating that it welcomes everyone to suffer from the effects of climate change.

The company was recently awarded Gold Employer status for LGBTQ+ inclusion at the AWEI Awards, while simultaneously earning the title of Australia’s biggest domestic contributor to climate change by Greenpeace. Greenpeace argues that AGL emitted 42.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2019-2020. Greenpeace data confirms that the energy company creates,

“…24.6% of electricity sector emissions and 8% of Australia’s total emissions, which primarily comes from the coal burned at the energy giant’s three coal-burning power stations: Liddell, Bayswater, and Loy Yang A. AGL’s own data confirms that 85% of energy generated by the gentailer comes from burning coal.”

At the same time, AGL boasts publicly that:

“This is the third year we have been awarded Gold Employer status, and the fifth year that we have participated in the AWEI. Our employee-driven LGBTQ+ network, AGL Shine, was created in 2014. The network focuses on providing a safe and inclusive environment for all our employees – while also advocating internally and externally for gender inclusion beyond the heteronormative binary.”

Creating a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people in encouraging, but let’s not beat around the bush. How hard is it to be inclusive in 2022?

Encouraging diversity essentially means treating everyone equally.

How hard is that?

Even if AGL does genuinely support LGBTQIA+ people in the workplace, what exactly does this entail?

It involves affirming the Darlington Statement which articulates the human rights demands of people with intersex variations. A statement written by someone else.

Does it involve paying a diversity trainer or consultant to conduct training sessions on diversity with employees, or hosting social days to celebrate diversity?

Does it involve allowing all staff to choose their own pronouns, and updating HR documents, or posting the rainbow motif on all social media platforms?

It might even include sponsoring a float in Mardi Gras, targeted employment or other active steps. They might even make a difference to the lives of employees.

Remember, however, that government schools throughout Australia are just as inclusive as AGL, but they don’t win awards. They also do so with a fraction of the money available to AGL. They do it with underpaid, overworked, undervalued teachers.

Did AGL win an award because it operates within the resource sector, and is the resource sector full of bigots?

Either way, winning an award for diversity inclusion does not change the fact that AGL is still Australia’s biggest polluter. It does not change the fact that:

Lesbians will suffer from climate change

Gay people will suffer from climate change

Bisexual people will suffer from climate change

Trans people will suffer from climate change

Queer people will suffer from climate change

Intersexed people will suffer from climate change

Asexual people will suffer from climate change

That’s not all.

Males will suffer from climate change

Females will suffer from climate change

Men will suffer from climate change

Women will suffer from climate change

Non binary people will suffer from climate change

Gender neutral/Androgynous people will suffer from climate change

Gender fluid people will suffer from climate change

Agender people will suffer from climate change

Cisgender people will suffer from climate change

Demigender people will suffer from climate change

Gender questioning people will suffer from climate change

Genderqueer people will suffer from climate change

Intergender people will suffer from climate change

Multi-gender, bigender and trigender people will suffer from climate change

Pangender will suffer from climate change

Bois, Tomboys will suffer from climate change

Butch/masc people will suffer from climate change

Femme people will suffer from climate change

Gender noncomforming will suffer from climate change

To the LGBTQIA+ community, don’t be fooled by AGL’s slick marketing campaign. You will suffer the effects of climate change.

To the LGBTQIA+ community, don’t let AGL exploit you to distract Australians from their climate destruction.

Owning the rainbow.

When you see a rainbow, what do you think of?

Rain and sunshine. Refraction of light. A pot of gold or the full spectrum of colour?

Or do you think of the LGBTQI+ community?

Many people throughout the world probably think of the LGBTQI+ community, and this is the genius of owning the rainbow. The LGBTQI+ community has appropriated this great and beloved natural wonder as its own symbol to express everything that their community represents.

The rainbow permeated the successful social media campaign which eventually legalised same-sex marriage in Australia. The campaign asked the public to do everything from contacting their local politician, to wearing rainbow coloured laces for a day, to hanging a rainbow flag out their window to show support for the cause. The campaign worked, and it was successful it could almost be taught to future activists as an example of how to harness social media for a social cause – and it was all underwritten by the rainbow motif.

How did this happen?

US artist Gilbert Baker popularised the rainbow flag as a symbol for the gay community as far back as 1978. The San Francisco artist was apparently urged to create a symbol of gay pride by Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States.

The different colours in the rainbow flag are associated with diversity and all have distinct meanings for people within the LGBTQI+ community. While the flag itself may have evolved since 1978, it is still a famous symbol of the LGBTQI+ community and a was a stroke of marketing genius on behalf of Baker.

Interestingly, the rainbow flag was also utilised to unite people during the Reformation, as far back as 1525. It was also suggested as a symbol of the Armenian Republic movement, the Cooperative movement, the Peace movement, Indigenous rights in the Andes, Basque nationalism, Jewish Autonomous Oblast and the Patriots of Russia political party. But how many people throughout the world would associate the rainbow flag with any of these movements? And how many of those people would automatically think of the LGBTQI+ movement?

It is a stroke of marketing genius. So much so that every time many people see a rainbow, they will consciously or subconsciously associate it with the LGBTQI+ community, just as people associate a yellow M with a certain fast-food restaurant. Better still, rainbows cost nothing and are thus free advertising.

Every time a local council paints a rainbow on a public staircase, people will think LGBTQI+

Every time a local council flies rainbow flags, people will think LGBTQI+

Every time the sun shines after rain, people will think LGBTQI+

Image: Mateus Campos Felipe