What is your role?
Head of Corporate Data Programme Management & Integration
I’ve been working in project and programme management for the past 25 years or so, in a mixture of technology and organisational change initiatives (frequently both at the same time), mainly in financial services. I was a professional actor for a while in my twenties and believe I’m one of the few people in AIG to have an entry in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). My degree is in English, which means that, whilst I don’t always understand what people are trying to say, if they are speaking English, I generally understand what they actually do say. It also means I can tell jokes in Anglo Saxon, which is less useful.
What factors allow you to bring your full self to work?
a. How does your environment make you feel involved and included?
Open-minded tolerance seems to be increasingly a given, evidenced by the rapid recent growth in our employee resource groups, of which there are now over 100 worldwide (10 of which are LGBT+ groups, including one in Japan). The firm’s commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives from the most senior levels is very visible.
b. Do you think there is improvement needed? What are your ideas?
We need to do more work with allies to educate, build awareness, and perhaps allay some anxieties and misconceptions in the non-LGBT+ community
What was your first motivation to be out at work and how has being out most positively influenced your experience?
Seeing the work of the LGBT+ employee resource group, and wanting to be part of that change initiative. My experience at work reflects my wider personal experience that, generally speaking, people can be surprisingly accepting of difference when they associate it with a specific individual they actually know.
Can you tell us how the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
Hopefully, we are helping to dispel the perception that insurance is a pale, stale, male and straight industry, making us more attractive as a place to work and, hopefully, better able to sell our products to an increasingly diverse customer base.
Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
You’ll be surprised at how much energy is released when you can relax about being your authentic self in the office.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Embrace your multifaceted self and don’t feel you have to imitate the way others operate.
Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
When the head of HR messaged me to say she admired my courage in talking openly at work about my non-binary gender identity.
What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
I am co-chair of the LGBT+ employee resource group. I wear my rainbow badge every day – small visible signs of support can contribute in subtle ways to building an inclusive culture.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
Be yourself – call out presuppositions (gently, at first) based on assumptions that everyone thinks or lives or identifies in the same way as the speaker.
What are you doing outside of your organisation to be a good role model?
I actively cultivate an open mind, and answer questions as openly as I can.
Who is your most memorable role model and why?
My late mum, whose wonderful funeral had me asking, “what changes in my life do I need to make to ensure I have a funeral as good as this one?”.
How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
Excited and a bit nervous
How has the Link network helped you?
Increased my confidence, knowing that I’m in good company
What do you think Link can do in the future to best serve the new generations?
Make sure they are aware of Link’s existence, and that LGBT+ identities don’t have to be parked at the corporate office door.