Tell us about your accomplishments to date?

For the past 3 years I have co-led our company’s contribution to the Grampian Pride Parade.  For me, this is a proud celebration of our LGBT+ employees, wider community and their achievements.  Additionally, this event provides an opportunity to acknowledge that there is still much progress to be made and allows us to come together to recognize these areas for improvement and work together to strive for positive change.

I have contributed to various ERG events including panel discussions for Lesbian Visibility Day, Parents of LGBT+ People and LGBTQ+ People in STEM.  I take every opportunity to share my experiences as a lesbian woman from coming out, to my career and unique challenges, to starting a family.  I believe the impact of vulnerability is extremely valuable.  When people that know you hear your story, the empathy factor is more accessible.  For me personally, my greatest achievement is when individuals reach out following these events to express their gratitude and share how listening to the discussions and stories inspires them to be their more authentic self at work.  This is the main reason I aim to be a visible LGBT+ Role Model at work.

What are the barriers in representing many intersectional identity groups?

For me, the biggest barrier is the extent that our marginalized group is misunderstood and when we are misunderstood we can sometimes be overlooked.  Where there is a culture of growth and learning, we can leverage that to spread awareness and mindfulness on LGBTQ+ topics.  Another barrier for me is assumptions.  In society there are many assumptions; that you are cis gender, that you are straight, if you are married then you’re married to the opposite sex, but then if you’re married to or dating the same sex then you must be gay (not bi), if you’re a mother you carried your child… I could go on.  All of these assumptions put pressure on LGBTQ+ people to continually come out in all sorts of situations.  Ultimately this takes me back to my first barrier, if we can grow knowledge and awareness, then perhaps people may more often approach conversations with less assumptions and more open minds.

Do you think acceptance is improving?

Ultimately I do, but not at as fast a pace as I’d like.  If I reflect on my 20 year career, there is a great deal more acceptance now compared to 20 years ago.  We often rely on younger generations to “fix” things with a mindset of when they grow up, things will be different.  But we should not wait for younger generations to drive this culture change and while we sit and wait, this would allow for negative cultures to exude.  If each individual person can open their mind little by little, learn something new every once and a while, allow themselves to sit in someone else’s shoes, then we may just fast track to a more accepting society quicker.

What does been nominated in your category mean to you?

I feel truly humbled and immensely proud to be nominated for an award.  It’s such a joy to be included alongside so many deserving nominees with a shared passion for elevating LGBT+ inclusion.