Mike Morgan, Director of Digital Technology and IT at Hays, tells MyGWork's Louise Sinnerton that “it’s important to drive change and progress in the regions and not just be London-centric."
The Pride Network was set up at Hays in April 2019 to support LGBTQ+ inclusiveness in the workplace, but consequently it’s also proven a successful engagement tool to discuss with clients, Mike comments.
“With so many companies talking about this topic as part of their Diversity and Inclusion strategies, at Hays we are keen to understand what other organisations are doing around best practice and sharing our experiences with our clients”.
Building on the achievements of Hays’ existing network for professional women, Mike established the Pride Network to proactively support LGBTQ+ staff.
“I knew we had to put strategies and policies in place around our LGBTQ+ staff, and around attracting and retaining LGBTQ+ talent.”
Mike’s drive to support the organisation’s own LGBTQ+ staff is fuelled by his strong belief that all Hays staff should know the importance of them bringing their whole self to work and feeling confident with being who they are each day.
Mike became the chair for the Pride network three months ago, but he was involved in creating networks and powering change long before.
Four years ago he was invited to a Stonewall event in Birmingham and it sparked an idea with a group of peers from other large Birmingham-based corporates.
“There were about six of us chatting to Stonewall about the importance of building local networks, and we wanted to do something in Birmingham rather than London where there are already established LGBTQ+ networks.
"So, we set up the Alliance Network, which supports LGBTQ+ professionals in the Midlands and assists organisations in supporting their LGBTQ+ staff.
"We hoped to get at least 20 attendees to our first Birmingham event, but encouragingly it attracted just over 50 attendees from a variety of professional services backgrounds.
"We were blown away by the interest and appetite for a Midlands-based network and since then the network has grown from strength to strength. There are now over 80 member organisations and over 550 individual members.
“We have some amazing members and ambassadors in the network and our aim has developed into a mission statement of “making the Midlands the best place to work for LGBTQ+ professionals."
Whatever Mike does he is always sharply focused on making sure people have something to take away from the Alliance Network’s events.
“We produce toolkits for every event that you can download online, and we really are committed to making sure our members leave our events with practical takeaways that they can implement in their respective workplaces.”
Mike is committed to that intention, and equally committed to making Hays stand out from other recruiters in supporting our LGBTQ+ staff. He has had the support of the UK and Ireland board to set up and run the first internal LGBTQ+ network.
He continues: “We want Hays to appeal to candidates applying to jobs in recruitment based on our celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and the success of our Pride Network.
"We should be very proud of what our network offers and to the support it provides to current and new staff.
"When people apply to work for us, get invited to assessment centers and interviewed, it should be something we talk about that will make potential LGBTQ+ employees feel comfortable, safe and empowered.”
Mike himself has been at Hays for 17 years and remembers the start of his own career as a driver for improving LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace.
He says: “Like many other LGBTQ+ graduates I was one of the 62 per cent that went back into the closet when I started my first professional job.
"I joined the construction division and I kept it a secret for nine months because I didn’t feel comfortable telling people in a corporate environment. I wasn’t myself, and I needed someone to say, 'It’s okay to be different', and my performance suffered.
"After nine months of trying to hide and conceal my true self, I started to let my guard down and tell a few close colleagues – I needn’t have worried as the company were extremely supportive.
"Coming out was the changing point in my early career and it helped me become more successful as I was finally able to be myself, which in turn enabled me to forge much better relationships with clients and colleagues.
"I found clients and candidates warmed to me more when I was finally myself which ultimately lead to better business relationships and more meaningful conversations."
Now he’s vowed that anyone joining the Hays business should feel confident as their true self, as there is a solid support network in place to ensure people are able to be bring their whole self to work, enabling everybody to realise their full potential.