Geoff Godwin, AIG

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What is your role?
UK Chief Operating Officer

Geoff's Story
I have worked in the insurance industry for 25 years. I have spent most of my time working in Claims. I studied law. I have held a number of different leadership roles in the last 2 companies I have worked in. I thrive in a changing environment and so have been able to adapt myself to the different environments I have worked in.

What factors allow you to bring your full self to work? 
a. How does your environment make you feel involved and included?

The environment feels inclusive as we have recognised networks and people are allowed to express themselves and challenge how things are done.

b. Do you think there is improvement needed?  What are your ideas?
Improvement is needed. We need more role models to champion being yourself and more allies to explicitly voice how important it is that everyone can bring their whole selves to work. We need to have a robust approach to educating middle managers as they are the key link to making people feel safe and empowered at work.

What was your first motivation to be out at work and how has being out most positively influenced your experience?
To allow myself to be me at work, so I could concentrate on being the best at my job. Being a role model provides me with huge motivation to help others and leave a legacy for the next generation.

How has the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
We are able to retain talent and also drive innovation with having people at the table thinking differently to get the best outcome for our customers. I also believe that they are excellent at assessing risk given that is what they have to do every day. This is a perfect match for an insurance company as that is our core activity.

Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
Talk to someone who is out to understand the journey they have been through and the positive impact it has had on their career. This will allow them to be more successful at their career as they can focus 100% of their energy on their job, rather than having to think about covering what and who they are.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be more visible as a role model from an earlier age. Nothing bad will happen and the industry is a relatively safe place to be.

Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
When I started to be approached for advice on how to come out at work and hearing people talk about you as someone senior who is willing to be stood up and be counted.

What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
I am co-chair of our LGBT network. I attend events and speak openly about who I am. I am available to provide advice and support and I mentor a large number of people inside and outside of my organisation. I always take opportunities to highlight the importance of including everyone and not making assumptions about anyone!

What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
Be visible. Speak up to ensure everyone feels included and listen to people’s challenges and act on them to show others it is worth speaking up as people will act.

What are you doing outside of your organisation to be a good role model?
Attending events, winning awards, part of Outstanding List of Top 100 Executives. Sitting on charity boards. Explaining about Diversity & inclusion whenever I can and the impact it has on our business.

Who is your most memorable role model and why?
Inga Beale. She stands out as a leader not afraid to challenge the status quo in an established industry.

How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
Like I was part of something and that there were more LGBT professionals in the industry than I realised.

How has the Link network helped you?
To help build a network of support and to help drive ideas on events.

What do you think Link can do in the future to best serve the new generations?
Be visible. Explain what Link does and that it is open to everyone to build a network, make friends and understand what different organisations are doing.