Chris Aneley, Lockton

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What is your role?
Insurance Administrator

Chris' Story
I attended an all-boys state school in Hertfordshire and subsequently I went to University at Southampton where I studied Biomedical Science. I realised at the end of University that I did not want to carry on in a medical research field and was introduced to insurance through my sister.

My sister was selected for the Lloyd’s of London Graduate Scheme in which she was placed in Lockton for 6 months in rotation. When I finished University and after I spent a month travelling, my sister was able to arrange some work experience for myself for 3 months. Lockton were kind enough to offer me a full time position with them after my work experience completed.

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

I felt “lucky” in a way as the head of our division is openly gay and this was a real comfort for me. I originally came out to him and I think people had a suspicion. The great thing is that in my company I feel like that being is gay isn’t even news at all, which is actually a comfort for me. Perhaps the generally young work force also helps as in my mind, opinions about homosexuality are generational.

b. Do you think there is improvement needed?  What are your ideas?
There is a need to improve as I would not have come out (yet) if the head of my division was not openly gay. Lockton is trying to arrange an LGBT initiative so hopefully this will gain momentum. I actually think “waving the banner” for LGBT is sometimes not a good idea and people are not interested if you make a song and dance about it. I do think companies need a straight ally initiative as well, especially in regional offices as it’s easy to get cut off in comfort in the London “bubble".

What was your first motivation to be out at work and how has being out most positively influenced your experience?
The simple fact for me is that I find it incredibly tiring having to lie about my life.

I was hesitant about coming out at first, but as mentioned, seeing the head of our division confidently out and with no one seemingly bothered then this was the real catalyst for me.

Can you tell us how the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
Actually, I think people at work are interested in my “gay life” (for want of a better phrase) and it’s another topic or dynamic in the conversation.

People are comfortable having a joke about me being gay and I would not want it any other way.

Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
I think if someone is not out and they want to be out, it is not a matter of announcing it. In all honestly, I think most people will be suspicious about it and they probably feel more awkward talking to you about it even though they really want to.

I think it is good to give indicators to people and of course there is going to be someone else in the same position as you.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Actually none – Every mistake is a learning curve and you need to make mistakes and have bad times to appreciate the good. I never considered myself gay until I went to University. Perhaps I wish that it was more apparent to me at an earlier age but in reality I do not think so too much.

Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
Actually when I first came out to my friends, I felt incredibly proud of myself and I think people were proud of Me. Everyone has troubles in life and its how you and the people around you deal with it.

I also think at work, I am fairly young at work and the only other out gay colleague in my department. I think it was a real eye opener for people to see someone young and new come out as gay and actually probably a nice “change” almost for people.

What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
Never lie about what your personal life is to anyone you are comfortable with.

Don’t make a point of reminding everyone that you’re gay.

What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
A good role model should be able to understand everyone’s situation is different. At times I consider myself a bit brash with being openly gay and I do not see what the people’s problems are. But this is because I am incredibly lucky in my role with the people around me.

If you do not feel comfortable where you are at work then the simple fact is this place of work is not right for you.

What are you doing outside of your organisation to be a good role model?
Outside of LGBT, I am part of the London Market Group (LMG) London Insurance Life. This role allows me to be an ambassador for the whole insurance market.

How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
Initially actually shocked by the age range. I assumed most people there would be younger so I actually found this very comforting there was a wide range.

How has the Link network helped you?
For me, I actually saw Link as simply another social network. It was never a comfort place for me as being gay, but it’s just increased my profile in the market which I am grateful for.

It has helped me be a better role model because it has allowed me to listen to other peoples stories of coming out and reflect how my own seems to be quite different.

Sexual health is a big topic in the LGBT community. At a Link event I listened to an individual’s story about living as HIV positive, it was inspiring and actually made me have a less ‘fearful’ view of the illness.

What do you think Link can do in the future to best serve the new generations?
Truthfully I do not feel like I have been part of Link long enough to comment, however I really feel  a collaboration with my own company would be great to increase awareness of LGBT within Lockton.