Abigail Ball, QBE Insurance

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What is your role?
Co-Chair of QBE EO Pride and Pride Ally – Day Job Personal Assistant

Abi's Story
I started my working life as an office junior and knew quickly that I wanted to be a PA, so worked my way up through various companies until I finally got there working for HSBC.

I joined QBE in 2014 as PA to Direct of Canada and Middle East, in 2015 Pride was formed and I signed up straight away to become and Ally. The more involvement I could have in the Pride network, the better. I became so involved that I joined the committee and was elected co-chair in February 2017.

What factors allow you to bring your full self to work? 
a.  How does your environment make you feel involved and included?
Through the various networks at QBE I have always felt able to bring my true self to work.

b. Do you think there is improvement needed?  What are your ideas?
There is always room for improvement, my whole focus for 2018, with awareness, communication and events is all geared towards the importance of bringing your true / whole self to work. QBE Pride event this year will be about this very subject, and I have picked my speakers on this basis.

What was your first motivation to be involved with the LGBT+ community? How has this most positively influenced your experience?
I have family members and many friends who are part of the LGBT community and from a very early age I have heard many different stories, and experiences that people have had when coming out or being around people who are not tolerant and to me it has never entered my head that anyone should be treated differently just because of who they are. When I had the chance to be involved with Pride I jumped at it as I knew how passionately I felt about making a difference and now was the chance to do so.

How has the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
When people feel comfortable at work, that they don’t have to watch what they say when asked what they did at the weekend etc, it helps with morale and performance, this is why Pride and similar networks are so important to employers and employees.

Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
To promote a visual support for colleagues in the LGBT community, I initiated a rainbow lanyard scheme last year.  My advice would be to seek out someone wearing a lanyard if you feel comfortable to do so, email the Pride inbox which is accessed and monitored by several of the committee or get in touch with our confidential employee assistance programme.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
That you can’t change the world – I have to remind myself now of this. I do still try to change the world though.

Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
New joiners have told me that they were so pleased to find the pride network and how it has helped with the life at work. When a colleague left the company and told me that he wouldn’t have stayed at QBE as long if it wasn’t for the Pride Network. He also told me that how I had supported him and made him more confident to go on to bigger, better things.

What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
Keep talking about pride, and wearing my lanyard for all to see!

What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
Keep talking.

What are you doing outside of your organisation to be a good role model?
I often talk of Pride outside of work, sometimes I’m challenged: people are interested, don’t understand, a mixture of reactions. It’s all about understanding, communicating and to keep talking about it.

Who is your most memorable role model and why?
Personally – My auntie who lost her battle with cancer, but from the day of diagnosis to the day she passed, she was always positive and had a smile on her face. So many people are so negative when they actually don’t have much to be negative about.

Professionally – Dame Inga Beale, for getting where she is today and being a great role model not just in the LGBT Community but for women. Being the first female CEO of Lloyds is a huge achievement and that’s just one thing Inga has achieved that I look up to.

How has the Link network helped you?
Hugely – Solely for the advice I have received to help us along the way with our pride network – helping me to look at things I hadn’t even considered.