This piece is the second part of our #ComingOutSeries, where we will be sharing insights from employees within the business to celebrate National Coming Out Day. Our #ComingOutSeries is centred around bringing your whole self to work. We hope that this content empowers people and promotes intersectionality for us all to support Coming Out.
The transformative power of words
I came out when I was 18 – that was ‘only’ 26 years ago, but in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) it seems like an eternity. Being gay in 1996 wasn’t well accepted. Pride was more a demonstration rather than a celebration.
The notion of coming out holds history with many associated meanings and words. One word I learned to hate over the years is the word ‘normal’. I question what it even means. We are all born different, raised different, believe different, love different and choose different paths in life. Such diversity makes the world so exciting and worth living.
Another impactful word is ‘inclusion’. It reunites through respect, understanding and appreciation of individuals. Lastly, ‘authenticity’ is a word I’ve learned to love. It’s about being who you really are and embracing the real you. This goes beyond all. Once we rewire the way we associate words, there can be room to evolve and lead others towards acceptance.
“Once we rewire the way we associate words, there can be room to evolve and lead others towards acceptance.”
Working in a company that supports diversity
I joined The SR Group in 2008 and haven’t ever felt the need to pretend to be someone I am not. When my partner Kory and I decided to adopt our two boys, we received excellent support from the firm. I am thrilled to see how truly diverse we have become. I equally am very proud of how much we are pushing DEI in the public domain.
But we still have lessons to learn. Inclusivity is not a box you tick – it is a continuous journey and this is where allies can make a mark. We should all work hard together to make sure allyship is not important anymore, it should be embedded. Until then, it is crucial for us all to show that we stand and fight for inclusiveness and that there is no compromise.
“Inclusivity is not a box you tick – it is a continuous journey and this is where allies can make a mark.”
The role corporates play can determine your company’s success
It should be second nature for firms to play a crucial role in driving DEI and representation. From a social point of view, it is the right thing to do and business leaders should act as role models to push global change. From an economic point of view, striving for DEI and representation in some markets may have an impact on revenue – but talent globally, especially young talent, is drawn to inclusive businesses.
To evolve and grow your business, this talent is what your company needs. Whether you are a corporate or an individual, create an open culture and be vocal about what you stand for. Build allyship and role models and have no mercy with people who still do not understand that success doesn’t correlate with whether you wear trousers, skirts or who you love.
“It should be second nature for firms to play a crucial role in driving DEI and representation. “
Raise children without expectations and limitations
I wish we didn’t need allies. I hope to soon live in a world where when parents ask their teenagers whether they’re dating anybody, the word ‘anybody’ can be gender-neutral with no expectations.
Sadly, we are quite far from this ideal. What we can all do is work hard against stereotyping. This must start with how we raise our children. A girl should never be told to not be bossy. A boy should never be told not to cry like a girl. The way we treat children of today will shape the world we see in the future.
“The way we treat children of today will shape the world we see in the future.”
Thank you to Michael Illert for his insights.