So what exactly is l’Autre Cercle ?
L’Autre Cercle is one of the leading French national homosexual voluntary associations. Its members are professional men and women working in the public and private sectors or in the liberal professions. All have not only a strong sense of social responsibility but are united in a will to create a mutually supportive and amicable network of men and women holding positions of responsibility in the private and public sectors.
Originally founded in 1998, l’Autre Cercle adopted its current structure in 2002 when it became a national Federation of decentralised regional associations. The reason for this decentralised structure was to strengthen l’Autre Cercle’s presence in the provinces and to facilitate the development of local action plans. L’Autre Cercle’s mission is to combat discrimination based on sex, lifestyles, sexual orientation, or gender identity and more specifically to gain full respect for different sexual orientations in the workplace.
The association’s members have the capacity to take action in favour of the establishment of a social and professional climate into which everyone, man or woman alike, can fit and achieve personal fulfillment, Based on the output of its working groups, l’Autre Cercle has chosen an innovative form of activism consisting of awareness-raising initiatives focussed on business and other organizations and on partnerships, training programmes and consultancy work aimed at accompanying and encouraging positive evolution in the workplace
Having published the A.C. White Paper and organised the first French conference on homophobia at work in 2003, l’Autre Cercle established an AC Best Practice Watch and an AC Training Group in 2004.
The association became a member of the ANDRH and CJD “Diversity Committees” It joined the government action group “Equal Opportunity – a major national challenge for 2006”, the national Equality Body (HALDE) Steering Group “2007, European Equal Opportunity Year”, the Standards Compliance Committee of the Diversity Seal of Approval and the AFNOR Standards Committee responsible for defining a Diversity Management Standard. L’Autre Cercle sits on the national Ombudsman’s (Défenseur des Droits) LGBT Committee It also originated the transnational Equal sexism and lesbophobia project « DELEDIOS » from 2005 to 2008
In 2009, l’Autre Cercle directed and produced a video documentary film entitled “Diversity Enriches ” which was formally launched on the occasion of the association’s first Diversity Award and Gala Dinner in May 2010. In the following year , working hand in hand with community groups l’Autre Cercle signed the French Charte de la Diversité (on May 17 2011).
Also, later that same year (in November 2011), l’Autre Cercle organized a major two day international conference in Strasbourg with the active co-operation and assistance of local city government and with the sponsorship of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr.Thorbjørn Jagland. Around 120 conference delegates debated the impact of the lack of mutual recognition of same sex unions across national borders in Europe and were addressed by more than 30 keynote speakers from 18 European countries and from North America. These speakers included leading academic personalities, senior civil servants and a high ranking army officer from the Netherlands as well as members of the European Commission and the European Parliament.
Throughout 2012, l’Autre Cercle worked hand in hand with the consulting firm, Accenture, to develop a major event focussing on an exchange between business corporations on company LGBT diversity policies. This event lead directly to the initiation of a “Charter of LGBT Commitment “ under guardianship of l’Autre Cercle, which was formally launched at a ceremony in January 2013 held at the Ministry for Womens’ Rights, where it was signed by 9 private and public sector organizations. More organizations are expected to sign the Charter on the occasion of the fourth Diversity Award and Gala Dinner in April 2013.
In 2012, the association also launched a quantitative survey on LGBT retirement issues following an earlier in- depth national quantitative survey “Living as an LGBT person in the Workplace” (2011) and a qualitative research project on “Double Discrimination of Lesbian Women” (2007) These research projects provide valuable information on the reality of LGBT life in a work context both for the association and for its outside partners..
It should be added that, thanks to both French public and European FSE financing, the association has been able to develop a certain number of tools, some of which were pioneered by one of the federated regions ( for example a Comic Strip), Best Practice frameworks, a DVD of theatrical sketches, a Mini-Glossary of discriminations, a Mobile Exhibition, Web Video Spots, printed materials such as the “White Paper”, “Diversity and the Workplace – has nothing been forgotten?” or “Double Discrimination – woman and lesbian” and as well as a video documentary with (positive) male and female testimonies in the workplace .
L’Autre Cercle participates each year in activist demonstrations such as the Gay Pride March in Paris and those in other regional capitals. In December 2012 and January 2013, the association also took part in the demonstrations in favour of Marriage Equality.
Last, but not least, l’Autre Cercle works closely with a number of domestic and international associations of which it is a member. For example, it is a member of the Inter-LGBT (an “umbrella network” of aound 60 French homosexual associations), of ILGA (The International Lesbian and Gay Association) and is a co-founder both of EGMA (The European Lesbian and Gay Managers Association) and of RAVAD (the French “help network” for victims of Harassment and Discrimination)