I am in the fortunate position to share my experiences about a company with open-minded colleagues and an environment where you can just be yourself. However, before I dive into the details, let me rewind and share with you how I am able to write this positive note.
At the beginning of 2017, I was making my way through a postgraduate programme while looking into career opportunities for after obtaining my degree. My university communicated a networking event with LGBT-friendly companies and their role models, organised by myGwork and in partnership with Willis Towers Watson. For me, this event meant I got notified of three important career considerations.
Firstly, I got triggered to think about the career environment I would like to be in. As a Dutch man living in diverse London, it never occurred to me being a member of the LGBT community could cause issues when being in a corporate environment. I was therefore very glad that the effort taken by organisations, such as myGwork, helps raise awareness in this less expected manner. Secondly, I went online to explore myGwork’s offering and how it could help me in making sure my newly developed goal of finding a welcoming employer could be achieved. This led to the pleasant surprise that lots of companies think about their culture, norms and values and some actively seek to attract people to create a diverse employee body. One both the employers and the employees can be proud of and praise for its inclusiveness. Lastly, this event at Willis Towers Watson would create an accessible occasion to meet the people who can show how their companies live and breathe these values. I therefore was more than happy to attend and be inspired by the formal and informal chats with LGBT role models in the UK’s professional environment.
Attending the myGwork event indeed proved to me that companies care about people and realise they need to be themselves in order to perform well. After all, everything about yourself is what makes you, you, and that is what will make you excel in your life. Knowing that organisations support that view and talking to LGBT people working for them about their personal experiences underline this even further. For me personally, this meant my interest to join Willis Towers Watson was enhanced further. I already applied for a job opening as the advertised role fit my profile, but having a concrete idea of how life at Willis Towers Watson would be, incentivised me to go the extra mile and land this job. Perhaps this enthusiasm helped me in the end, as now I can be proud to call myself a colleague of an inclusive and diverse employer in the UK.
Being with the company for four months now, I have noticed the impact of a focus on inclusion. Perhaps most importantly, whatever makes me, me, is appreciated by my colleagues. At first, it took me by surprise that even I, being raised in the first country with marriage equality, wondered whether I could tell my colleagues about my life outside of work. But just the feeling that this would not be an issue makes you feel comfortable and will allow you to never have that split second of doubt at your work ever again. Now I can talk freely about my personal life when people ask about my weekend plans and I can ask them about recommendations for a West-End play without feeling limited by a fear of being judged. I believe lots of people will recognise that uncomfortable feeling and I hope lots of people will find that the people you will work with every day will make sure you will never doubt expressing yourself again.
During this upcoming winter, I look forward to contributing to this inclusiveness by taking part in my company’s LGBT+ inclusion network. Its members are the people who make sure people are aware of all the important aspects of the work environment I described. They also will keep working with myGwork to make other people feel excited about joining the environment I have been enjoying for the past couple of months. It would be wonderful to help them in this process and perhaps in the future I will be one of those role models I met through myGwork’s and Willis Towers Watson’s collaboration. It would be great if you could join me in that journey and I look forward to hearing about your experiences.