What is your role?
HR Director, Lloyd’s
A really good question and one I have mulled on. In short I have lived and worked all over the world. I only came to live in the UK in my early teens – going to a boys boarding school near Cambridge. I was one first girls to go into the school. I was different as I had moved from Jamaica – I had a Jamaican accent, never worn a school uniform let alone shoes and I had been home schooled before I arrived in the UK, so had not spent time with groups of other children in a close knit environment. Initially I was different and so of interest to others and but then I didn’t ‘fit’ into the norm. For the first time in my life I was exposed to some shocking behaviour – it was very lonely / alienating and I changed so I could conform and blend in. I could not be me. I was still different when I went to Uni but the difference there was that I met and became very close friends with others that were different too. Many that were more comfortable with who they were than me but who accepted me for who I was. Many were exploring their sexuality and being able to be themselves for the first time in their life. It was very eye opening for me but also what turned out to be one of the most supportive environments with friends for life made. It taught me a lot about unconscious bias, the value of authenticity and true friendship. It also opened my eyes to a just how judgemental some people can be and the damage this can do in so many ways. It also gave me strength and insight to be true to what I am and to know that allies are key for all of us.
I have built on all of this experience over time and during my career – it has no doubt formed who I am and what I stand for. I have worked for 28 years in Human Resources across blue chip manufacturing, Banking and Insurance. Building my career along the way and the supporting qualifications /expertise.
I am a great believer in giving back – maybe it is age related now I am 50– but I have been supported in my career and developed along the way. I like to do this for others and hopefully inspire them the way I have been by various individuals in my life.
What factors allow you to bring your full self to work?
a. How does your environment make you feel involved and included?
I work with team that I have built and developed – it is my other family. That means I feel a huge sense of responsibility and pride. Also great accountability. I am also part of the bigger corporation and the market – a member of multiple groups. I feel included / involved to varying degrees.
b. Do you think there is improvement needed? What are your ideas?
Improvement is always needed – there is always opportunity. I'm an eternal optimist
What was your first motivation to be involved with the LGBT+ community? How has this most positively influenced your experience?
Goes back to my time at university – these were my friends and the people I spent a huge amount of time with. We were an integral part of one another’s lives and we had the most amazingly open conversations about everything. There were also some really tough experiences that people went through (be it at home or university), some of which I was involved in. The openness, experience and the friendships formed have influenced me ever since
Can you tell us how the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
I'm an HR Director so of course I am going to say that the more open and authentic we all are then the more of ourselves that we bring to work. If we can create an environment where we can actively support and encourage people to be themselves then we enhance our ability to attract, develop and retain talent. Plus reduce the stresses and strains associated with someone not being able to be authentic. For me personally – it just makes sense that it adds more to all we do
Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
Its takes courage– there increasing support out there. But you have to do it when it is right for you ….
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Remember that you can never truly stand in anyone else’s shoes …..
Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
At school – I ended up being a school prefect / head of house and I remember being told that it was because I had the courage to be me but that I also supported others. I hadn’t thought of myself as a role model before that – helped me be more confident and open about who I am.
What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
Be true to who I am – open / honest
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
Be true to yourself !
Who is your most memorable role model and why?
There are so many – I have taken pieces / lessons learned from so many people …
Probably my Sports teacher at school – he believed in me and what I could achieve. He inspired greater self confidence and self belief but he was also good at the tough love messages –ie great at giving feedback in an inspiring / developmental way that stayed with you. I don’t think I would have achieved what I did at school or playing sport if he hadn’t been inspiring / supporting me. It taught me very early on the difference a role model can make.
How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
How has the Link network helped you?
The network gives me good ideas / feedback / inspiration !
What do you think Link can do in the future to best serve the new generations?
Provide that critical support – inspire people to be true to themselves and hold their hand along the way.