Joe Clayton, Hiscox

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What is your role?
Underwriting Assistant - Property

Joe's Story
I came into the Market via the first Hiscox Apprenticeship Scheme in 2016 straight after my A Levels. I studied History, Politics and Sociology. A few family members work in Insurance and I gained work experience at Ageas for two weeks during 2014, so I had an idea what it insurance was all about and was determined to get a role in within the Lloyds market.

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

Coming straight from school into a new environment is challenging. Being so used to everyone knowing your ‘full self’ to then having to build new relationships can be challenging, especially when being gay. However Insurance is far more open minded and accepting that people may assume, and I have never been made to feel uncomfortable when discussing my partner and I’m treated no differently to anyone else. Diversity is a huge market-wide topic currently, I felt being part of a minority has been welcomed as a positive with events such as Dive in Festival contributing to this.

b. Do you think there is improvement needed?  What are your ideas?
The insurance market has traditional values that make it the market place it is today, which is a great thing to be a part of. Face to face trading as well as the social side of business that many industries now lack are down to all of us maintaining these original core traditional values. However this does not mean certain previously acceptable opinions have remained – the insurance market does have traditional traits but when it comes to diversification it has caught up with the world and shouldn’t be feared by minorities. 

What was your first motivation to be out at work and how has being out most positively influenced your experience?
I’ve been open about my sexuality for a very long time and always knew I would be open at work. My first opportunity to speak about my partner came very early on in my career when I discussed him with another individual on my apprenticeship scheme. I was initially nervous to speak about it with my team members, but my manager mentioned his partner who happened to be the same sex. This really put me at ease and I explained to him how I too had a same sex partner. Although this was a really positive coincidence, I was always going to be open with my team either way. It’s not the easiest thing to bring up the first time but once you have there is weight taken off your shoulders and you can now build a great working relationship with that person, rather than only bringing part of yourself to the table.

How has the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
My previous managerhas now set up an Internal LGBT group at Hiscox. In him being himself hes been able to help others do the same. Being a closed book at work can really hinder your performance, groups such as these can help people open up and therefore improve their working relations which is a positively contributes to the business.

Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
Do whatever makes you comfortable. Personally I feel uncomfortable trying to avoid talking about my life outside at work so an initial uncomfortable conversation (which probably is only uncomfortable for you!) means a more enjoyable experience at work. Don’t force yourself or let others push for you to do anything, do whatever you feel in yourself is what will make you most comfortable and therefore allow you to perform at your best.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t be so worried about others think of you! Don’t overthink people’s perceptions of you, as long as you believe you are striving to be the best you can be that is most crucial thing to both yourself and others.

How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
I was excited if I’m honest! The members of Link are a great bunch of people and I felt this straight away.

How has the Link network helped you?
It’s great networking - hearing about different roles that you wouldn’t usually be exposed to can give you a great insight that you might be able to use your role. I now have a web of people in a variety of areas that I would feel comfortable in contacting if I needed professional advice. I’ve brought colleagues along with me as Allies who also feel the same!

What do you think Link can do in the future to best serve the new generations?
I think Link is doing great in reaching out to a younger crowd, this is evident in the range in ages amongst the members. Career-fair visits and market wide promotions definitely will attract younger members which Link should keep up with.