I’ll admit it: I’m a fan of the series Schitt’s Creek. I stumbled upon the series one rainy weekend and binged the first three seasons without realizing it. It became my go-to show on the nights I just wanted to relax and laugh at the shenanigans the characters encountered in every episode. After watching the Netflix documentary on the show, I came to appreciate the intent of the show, especially its message around diversity and inclusion. I’ve spent some time reflecting on what Schitt’s Creek taught us about Diversity and Inclusion.
The show follows the once-wealthy Rose family who are forced to flee to the fictional town of Schitt’s Creek – which they purchased as a joke – after they lose everything. The comedic and unrealistic lives the Rose family led prior to losing their fortune makes their transition to the small, backwoods town of Schitt’s Creek
Writer, producer and actor Daniel Levy spoke about the writing of the show during the documentary. He said:
The great thing about the show and what I’ve always wanted to do is just be as inclusive as I possibly can, include characters that represent my life in a way that doesn’t feel like there has to be a lesson learned. I think the casual nature of including people is what we need more of, just generally in television, without having to make the gay characters the butts of the jokes or the punchline.https://www.irishnews.com/magazine/entertainment/2020/09/09/news/daniel-levy-talks-about-schitt-s-creek-ending-and-being-inclusive-on-screen-2061087/
The documentary on Netflix showcases several LGBTQ culture writers who noted this series was the first to depict a gay relationship as normal and without the stereotypical storyline. In most series, the gay characters chart their struggles with their sexuality or the homophobia encountered during their journey. Schitt’s Creek is one of the first series to depict a family and small town who accepts a gay relationship as normal.
In a BBC Article on the subject, Eliza Gilbert tells Radio 1 Newsbeat, “The relationship between Patrick and David is so important for the LGBTQ community.” She goes on to praise the writers for showing Patrick and David as “a couple” and not the typical “the gay couple”. The storyline depicting a healthy LGBTQ representation won the hearts of millions of fans.
My Personal Reflections on LGTBQ and Recruiting
I often struggle with how Diversity and Inclusion is implemented in organizations. While I thoroughly love seeing more and more companies bring this subject to light, I still feel as though we should be beyond this at this stage in the LGBTQ journey. The idea of creating an accepting and inclusive culture should be the norm and not something companies feel they should commercialize or market to attract candidates as a point of differentiation.
I truly feel there still remains a stigma or reluctance for LGBTQ candidates to bring their true selves to interviews. Personally, I’ve had conversations throughout my career with executives who admitted the lifestyle didn’t bother them as much as the “drama normally associated” with a member of the LGBTQ community. As a member of the community myself, I’ve often had to quiet my inner rage as I worked through the misperception with hiring managers.
Schitt’s Creek and other series that portray LGBTQ lifestyles as normal and healthy will definitely help address this misperception. As I thought through media I’ve seen over the years depicting LGBTQ, I have to admit that we’re not always portrayed in the best light. I would never use this as an excuse to condone stereotypes, it does help me understand how someone could arrive at the conclusion.
As a recruiter, when I’m speaking with the rare candidate who does share they are LGBTQ, I rarely go into a commercial about our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. I will often share that I continue to work for our firm because my lifestyle is irrelevant to my firm. It’s not that it isn’t important but it’s more as though I’m just accepted for who I am…. all of me. It’s one of the few organizations where I’ve truly thrived as a result of the “commonality” of me belonging to the LGBTQ community.
We celebrate Pride across the organization and it’s not just something we do to get media attention. We do it as a way to celebrate our team members for who they are and stand shoulder to shoulder against those who still feel the need to oppress those who are different than they are.
Our firm recently had a company-wide roundtable discussion to facilitate a heartfelt conversation regarding the topic. I felt a mixture of pride and overwhelming emotion as senior executives and other colleagues shared their journey in such a powerful and vulnerable way. It was our way of bringing the LGBTQ community within our organizations out of the shadows and into the light of acceptance and inclusion. For me, it was an uplifting and transformational hour spent with my team and teams across our organization.
What we need
My first commitment is always to recruit the most qualified applicant for the position. It’s my obligation to my candidates and to my organization and I take it seriously. What I wish I saw more of was organizations I could reach out to in order to recruit more LGBTQ candidates to our organizations. I wish there were more organizations representing groups like LGBTQ Tech or LGBTQ Accounting, similar to how other under-represented groups have been created.
I do feel the attention Schitt’s Creek and other powerful series depicting healthy LGBTQ lifestyles will help us continue to break down the walls and truly see the day when someone’s sexuality does not define who they are in the workplace. The impact organizations, especially those of us in recruiting, can have on changing this conversation is a responsibility we need to take seriously.
I’ll leave you with a clip from the documentary. The cast read a letter from a Facebook group of mothers of LGBTQ children who share the impact the show had on their lives and the lives of their children. I hope it inspires you to help change the conversation in your own organization. CAUTION:Tear Jerker.
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