What is your role?
Risk Management Executive
I started off in industry after graduating in Engineering, and then morphed into risk management and insurance, as you do! Much travel, field work and risk survey activity followed. Eventually this wide-ranging experience led me into more strategic risk management and business resilience work, which tends to be my main client focus now.
What factors allow you to bring your full self to work:
a. How does your environment make you feel involved and included?
Basically it didn't! It's tough because I am frequently travelling and meeting new people/clients. There is little visibility of LGBTQ people at work – although it's all perfectly accepting and engaging, but 'we' rarely come up in conversation and it sometimes feels ‘unfair’ that everyone can be so free and just be themselves!
b. Do you think there is improvement needed? What are your ideas?
Yes much needs to be done: for me, we need VISIBILITY above all else, to show that we exist:
- Networks such as Link are essential I would say - this can provide vital support and a 'safe space' in the absence of internal networks within organisations.
- It would be great to have greater visibility in the insurance Press - maybe as part of wellness, mental health and all these other related issues that are now circulating. Also, as an industry we are not performing too well in measures such as the Stonewall Index, and this needs to change..!
- Insurance is a fascinating industry with so many different and exciting career opportunities, but we are only now beginning to open up and market ourselves... For young people especially, we need to broaden our appeal and get onto their career radar, and for that to be successful we need to ensure that we embed and demonstrate authentic diversity and inclusion.
What was your first motivation to be out at work and how has being out most positively influenced your experience?
I was frustrated to be leading a double life and having become an expert in diverting conversations away from my personal life when everyone else didn’t even need to think about that. Some positive experiences and relationships encouraged me to be myself and that it was ok to be me.
How has the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
There is greater awareness about LGBT folk and those that are fully able to be themselves are much more productive, less stressed internally, and contribute fully at work.
Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
Deep breath and just do it: it will really help you to accept yourself and boost your self-confidence. This is the UK and it is 2018 now...
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don't be intimidated, there is nothing wrong with you! So stand up for yourself and be your true happy self.
Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
When asked to lead an LGBT initiative by HR dept at work… which I am now doing.
What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
Actually just being myself and engaging with people on an open (but up front) basis.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, and support and encourage others to be out and visible. Help to break down stereotypes.
What are you doing outside of your organisation to be a good role model?
I sing in a Gay Chorus, which also does Outreach work in schools; I vigorously challenge homophobia wherever I encounter it, even in public.
Who is your most memorable role model and why?
Sir Ian McKellen. He co-founded Stonewall and is an all-round amazing human being.
I had the pleasure of his company on a Charity Walk a few years ago and have spoken with him a number of times.
How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
Relieved and really pleased to find an organisation for the insurance industry!
How has the Link network helped you?
Met some useful contacts who helped me with guidance on starting up an internal network. It is also good to have a work-related LGBT ‘safe space’ for socialising.
What do you think Link can do in the future to best serve the new generations?
It should ensure it is nationwide, build links with other financial services networks, create events with notable guest speakers, and continue to engage with young people and university careers fairs, etc.