Dobbin Atlantic Scholar Report: Workplace diversity: Promoting the inclusion of LGBT police officers in Atlantic Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and the Republic of Ireland

July 25, 2018

Dobbin Atlantic Scholarship Report

Name:                              Dr. Sulaimon Giwa
Home University:      Memorial University of Newfoundland
University Visited:   Dublin City University

Title of Research:

Workplace diversity: Promoting the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) police officers in Atlantic Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and the Republic of Ireland

Details About the Research Visit:
I undertook my research visit to Dublin, Ireland, between June 1 and June 22, 2018. A key objective of the visit was to conduct a comparative, qualitative study about the workplace experiences of LGBT police officers in the An Garda Síochána (AGS). A parallel study was being conducted with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Findings from both studies will be analyzed to identify similarities and differences in the workplace experiences of LGBT police officers. Policy and practice recommendations will be made to improve the work environment for LGBT police officers, which may prove useful beyond these cultural contexts.

Week 1:
The first week involved acclimatizing to Dublin, with many days spent at Dublin City University. I met my colleague and host, Dr. Mel Duffy, and was introduced to faculty and staff in the School of Nursing and Human Sciences. After some delays, I made contact with the head of the AGS Analysis Service, and completed data-processing agreement and research protocols formalizing the AGS approval of the research study. The approval process took a week from the time the application was submitted. Once approval was obtained, the research study moved into the recruitment phase, with support from the G-Force—the employee resource group for LGBT-serving members of the police and security service. The head of the G-Force circulated the flyer to encourage eligible members to participate.

Weeks 2 to 3:
Qualitative interviews of eligible research participants commenced in Week 2 and carried through to Week 3, my final week in Ireland. Research data were collected from a small number of LGBT police officers. However, since leaving Ireland, I have received additional requests for interviews from AGS police officers. These interviews will take place soon. When this data has been collected, it will be analyzed and compared with data from the RNC study for convergence and divergence in the views of LGBT police officers in both countries. Findings will help to inform policy and practice recommendations for change.

I had hoped to meet with the G-Force committee, the Garda Bureau of Community Engagement, and the Bureau of Community, Diversity and Integration to learn about their work in strengthening relationships between the AGS and the LGBT community in Ireland. However, lack of time prevented this from happening. These conversations would have been timely, since the AGS seeks to modernize and renew itself to be better positioned to meet future policing and security challenges. Nonetheless, the formal conversations with research participants were helpful in contextualizing perceptions about the AGS work environment for LGBT police officers, and provided me with insight into police relations with the LGBT community at large.

I left Ireland as the annual LGBT Pride festival was to begin. Despite not being able to participate in the Pride events, I managed to attend the Gay Community News (GCN30) multimedia exhibition at the Gallery of Photography. The exhibition provided a historical account of the evolution of LGBT in Ireland, with the GCN there to document it all. I felt that I learned a lot about the history of LGBT people in Ireland through this event.

Future Continuing Collaboration:
I anticipate visiting Ireland in the near future to present the findings from the current research to the AGS. As the AGS works to modernize its workforce, my research findings may help to uncover other areas for mutual work and collaboration, supporting the organization’s effort in reflecting the communities it serves.

In addition, Dr. Mel Duffy and I have identified a shared research topic for investigation involving the Irish military and the Canadian Armed Forces. We hope that the research will help to shine light on the experiences of LGBT military personnel in both countries and improve their working conditions.

The funding received through the Dobbin Atlantic Scholarship Programme for this research supported the creation of a new partnership between Canada and Ireland and between the Memorial University of Newfoundland School of Social Work and the Dublin City University School of Nursing and Human Sciences. An opportunity was afforded to conduct a cross-cultural study of the police organizations in Ireland and Atlantic Newfoundland and Labrador to better understand the similarities and differences
in the workplace experiences of LGBT police officers. This type of comparative research is important for shaping policy and practice that is responsive to the needs of LGBT police officers in these countries. Armed with knowledge about the career experiences of LGBT police officers, police leadership in Canada and Ireland can better work to remove barriers to inclusion; leverage the skills, talents, and strengths of their LGBT police officers; and work towards a diverse and representative police force that is reflective of the communities being served. The success of this research has motivated a new area of investigation to be carried out in the near future, in which both academic institutions will be collaboratively involved.