Josh Brekenfeld, Lloyd's of London

Josh Brekenfeld photo.jpg

What is your role?
Oversight Manager

Josh's Story
I majored in political science and promptly moved from North Carolina to Washington, D.C.  I spent eight years working in U.S. politics before my husband and I moved to London in search of some sunshine.  Instead I found Lloyd’s and became fascinated by the insurance industry.  Today I work in the Lloyd’s Performance Management Division.

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

Leadership and visible allies are the key ingredients that allow me to be my full self at work.  I am not 100% there – I still struggle with self-doubt and courage – but I can say it’s certainly better now than it has ever been before!

b. Do you think there is improvement needed? What are your ideas?
We need to facilitate more honest conversations.  Being tolerant of the LGBT community is not the goal.  Being silent at work while voicing your views on social media is counterproductive and stagnates the pace of change we can make in the insurance sector. We need to have more awkward conversations where we empower people to speak their mind.

What was your first motivation to be out at work and how has being out most positively influenced your experience?
Because I just could not answer any more questions about my wife!!!  Being out with the folks around me means that when people talk to me about my life, I don’t have to wiggle around topics.  In reality, I will be coming out for the rest of my life, but when a colleagues knows and is comfortable – it’s a great feeling.

How has the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
I don’t know about the business (but there are a ton of stats that demonstrate the benefit s of allowing your workforce to bring their full selves to work) but for me personally, I am more productive, I am more trusting of my colleagues and I am more loyal to my employer.

Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet
We are all in the process of coming out.  Commit yourself to finding one person to confide in.  Gain confidence in how they respond – then come out again to someone else.  Coming out is not something that you do once – and it’s not always perfect.  But hopefully you will find is that being out changes your life for the better.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop obsessing about what others think of you.  Take constructive criticism on board, but recognise shade and pay it no mind.

Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
The moment I was nominated for this list!

What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
Visibility and honestly.  No one is perfect, but if you hold yourself up both when you get it right and when you get it wrong, you don’t know how else might be looking and learning from you.

What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
Be true to yourself.

What are you doing outside of your organisation to be a good role model?
Challenging homophobic language at my rugby club.  Being brave enough to say husband and not just partner whenever I meet new people.  Be a good judge of intent – not just of language. 

Who is your most memorable role model and why?
My memau – She taught me that it’s not just what you say, but it’s how you say it.  She also showed me how to be gracious and the importance of being prompt.

How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
Welcomed – but alone. I was new to the industry and I knew no one.

How has the Link network helped you?
It's allowed me to tap into the resources of other LGBT networks.

What do you think Link can do in the future to best serve the new generations?
Collate and distribute best practices.