Tell us about your accomplishments to date?

As one of few openly gay CEOs in finance, I have been recognised for my work in LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace for many years, receiving awards as far back as 2017 when Yahoo placed me seventh on their list of Biggest Companies with Gay CEOs. Since then, I’ve been in the top ten Outstanding LGBTQ+ executive role models five times, ranking second in 2020, and the British Diversity Awards placed me top ten for Diversity Ally of the Year in the same year.

Not only do I stand for LGBT+ inclusion, but my stance is also that discrimination on any grounds is unacceptable. As a result of my allyship and advocacy, I have won numerous awards for gender and cultural inclusion ranking third in the Heroes Awards in 2023 for my work to improve gender equality in the workplace.

In March 2023, in just one example of my inclusion advocacy at LV= I told colleagues, “All of the Exec Team and I are committed to enabling the most open and diverse environment as possible and to removing barriers, so colleagues can reach their true potential” and on LinkedIn said “Diversity and inclusion are really important both to me personally and to LV=. Senior leaders set the tone and should take accountability for the colleague culture we create.”

What are the barriers in representing many intersectional identity groups?

It is clear that a person who faces discrimination on the grounds of their sexuality may also face discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, gender, disability, and so on. Such discrimination can often create compound disadvantages. When this happens in the workplace, you start to see organisations with low morale that don’t reflect the communities they serve.

As a business leader, I understand that we need a multi-faceted approach to break barriers down. I create work cultures with both top-down and bottom-up support to bring about change. That’s why I encourage my leadership team to sponsor our colleague-led DEI networks and provide funding to make their plans a reality. This approach allows a business culture to develop where colleagues are heard and can lead change across LGBT+, gender, ethnic and disability access and inclusion issues with senior support.

A recent initiative to remove gendered language during recruitment is an example of what can be done with this culture in place. Our LGBT+ and gender balance networks collaborated with our HR team on language in job advertisements. The changes they made directly resulted in our first data team with a non-male-cisgender majority. That’s positive intersectionality in action.

Do you think acceptance is improving?

Overall, I think that yes, there is more acceptance in the workplace than there was when I started my career, but there is still a long way to go. We recently invited Switchboard to talk to colleagues about their 50-year history and they shared ambitions to increase the number of volunteers manning the lines to 500. The fact that this is needed suggests we cannot take our foot off the gas. If I can make a difference through the culture I create at the organisations I lead, then that is one small step.

What does been nominated in your category mean to you?

It is an absolute honour to be nominated as an Inspirational Leader. There were hardly any openly gay business leaders when I started my career. Representation matters; if a young LGBT+ person starting out can see themselves reflected at the top, that shows that there are businesses where they can be fully themselves at work. And if they can visualise their ambitions as a result then I hope that I’m doing something right.