Andrew Sellers, Hiscox

Andrew Sellers2 09-17.JPG

What is your role?
Group Head of Claims Supplier Management, Hiscox

Where do you work?
Based in London & Glasgow (but travel far and wide with work)

Andrew's Story    
I’ve represented Hiscox all over the world for 20 years and have enjoyed working in three completely different roles. Surviving 20 years and getting to where I’ve got wasn’t an accident – I’ve always been trusted; empowered and accountable. I’ve worked incredibly hard; taken risks, and genuinely enjoyed my work (most of the time!). I love people – I enjoy coaching and mentoring and I am passionate about great customer service; so working for a company that values people and is focused on being there for customers means Hiscox and I have been a really great fit.

I was born in Yorkshire and  educated in London and The Netherlands. I was a Graduate for the RSA and my second job was at Hiscox and I never left.

What factors allow you to bring your full self to work? 
a. How does your environment make you feel involved and included?
Feeling comfortable about who you are and what you do at work is really important and we all need to keep working hard at improving that. That’s why we employed a Head of D&I and I and my team are actively supporting her and her initiatives.

b. Do you think there is improvement needed?  What are your ideas?
We can always improve. We spend our lives at work and sometimes we don’t always really know what makes the person next to us tick. I try and avoid that. I’ve suggested we film a series of #mystory videos on the intranet at Hiscox where employees are encouraged to talk about something in their life that has challenged or inspired them. In the LGBT network we are likely to talk about how we “came out” and what our experience was at home and at work and what it feels like to be a victim of homophobia. We are all human…and we become better human beings when we understand each other a little more.

What was your first motivation to be out at work and how has being out most positively influenced your experience?
I joined Hiscox in September 1997 and came out six months later. I’d hidden my sexuality as a Graduate Trainee for the previous two years. Office banter was torture because I lived a lie. I had a girlfriend called Stephanie who was actually a boyfriend called Stephen. Looking back that was a “fake life” and a hideous time - but we lived in a different era and there was less tolerance. I felt that Hiscox was different even then - they were a progressive team of around 200 decent, intelligent people... and I quickly realised they really didn’t care at all about whether I was gay or not; or which university I went to - it was all about what you could do and what you might be able to do in the years ahead. Can you help the business succeed or not? That was so refreshing and it is still true today. Being Gay is a none-issue at Hiscox. If only that was true everywhere.

Can you tell us how the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
I believe every business benefits when we create environments where people can bring their whole self to work and just be who they are rather than pretending to be someone they are not. I’ve been there and it is a waste of energy. Work life is what we make it - there can be no room for intolerance or prejudice in whatever form. At Hiscox we are at the beginning of our LGBT journey and I am leading on the creation of a global employee network for our LGBT community. The team are debating what they want the network to be and the benefits it will deliver to the LGBT community at Hiscox and also the wider business. What we envisage for our network in the short term is developing our social media presence on a personal level and connecting with other networks. Through my role I also intend to raise the D&I debate throughout our supply chain. I am excited at the prospect of guiding, supporting and advocating for the network and driving the focus throughout our global supply chain. People matter and we can never forget that simple truth.

Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
I would ask them what was holding them back. The thought of coming out to friends and family is hard enough – coming out at work is harder and it is a very personal matter. I remember exactly how it felt twenty years ago. Fear held me back; fear of discrimination; fear of people judging me. I didn’t have a role model to have a coffee with. Today, despite the Equalities Act, discrimination is still a clear and present reality in offices today. But not coming out often makes life harder…hiding or lying about your true self is a living hell. Taking the plunge for me felt like emancipation. When I did it I had total support at work.  I never looked back. It’s always good to talk. Our network will hopefully make sure no one ever feels that way and there is always a safe harbour for anyone that needs it.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
I came from a very, very, poor working class family, a broken home. I was the youngest of 6; an absent mother and a father who preferred the company of a publican to the company of his children.  Studying wasn’t a chore for me – it was a necessity, an escape as I was going to university. I needed to study. I had no parental financing for university...…I worked in a supermarket to raise funds. I financed myself with government support and bank loans and four years later I beat many “elite” students to secure one of six Graduate trainee spots with the RSA in 1995.

So what advice would I give a younger me? Understanding my history, I’d probably get pretty choked and say “You are doing just fine Andrew….stay focused, crack on and never look back”.

Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
I am who I am. Other people have described me as a role model – I just try to be a decent human being who gets a kick out of helping people get on and do better.

What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
Whether it’s on social media; in team meetings or via wider business or social circles, I try and live by the Hiscox values. Treating people how you would like to be treated is an ancient mantra at Hiscox and is one that I respect and align with. It’s a simple life rule and if you follow it you rarely go wrong.  

What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
“Practise what you preach” – be consistent - and never stop listening or learning.

Who is your most memorable role model and why?
My sister Keither is my life role model and always will be. As a young girl she looked after me and my twin sister. She fed us, washed us, dressed us and looked after us. As a consequence she sacrificed her own education at the time to make sure her little brother and sister stayed safe. She left school with no education but a few years later decided to go back to school. And then she went onto university as a mature student - a first for my family. She then went onto teacher training college before becoming a teacher herself.  She excelled at teaching and quickly became a Head Teacher. She is now a Director of the teacher training programme at a top university and has dedicated her life to the state education system and our children’s futures. She is epic.

How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
I’m actually in the process of joining and look forward to the next event!

How has the Link network helped you?
Ask me a year from now :)