I didn’t come out at work until I was 27. Growing up in the 1990s, I didn’t have the self-belief to take that step. At that time, positive role models just didn’t exist – not on tv and I definitely wasn’t thinking about work back then – “work was for old people”. There was no Sam Smith, no Heartbreakers on Netflix normalising the LGBTQ+ experience. We had Boy George, Freddy Mercury and George Michael, who are absolute heroes today but were vilified in one way or another at the height of their fame.
I grew up feeling like there was something wrong with me. That sinking feeling stayed with me and affected how I viewed myself and how I behaved around others. It weighed me down through school, through university and then finally at work, because I feared people wouldn’t understand me, would laugh and ultimately reject me.
I had a boyfriend when I started working in the City. I considered myself fairly settled in certain parts of my life but didn’t dare mentioning the big G-A-Y word. Then one day everything changed. A supportive ally asked if I had a partner as opposed to the usual girlfriend line, and looking back, that helped me in more ways than I could imagine.
Slowly but surely, I began voicing my opinions more in the office and started hanging out with my colleagues socially. My performance became noticeably better at work. I was brave enough to challenge things that I thought could be improved and able to recognise my own good traits. I was determined, hard-working, built social connections with ease and was finally becoming confident.
Fast-forward a few years and no one could stop me. I joined Capco and felt at home there. One of the first things I noticed was the Be Yourself At Work strapline and I loved it. I was ready to be myself unapologetically, and I found myself in a position of influence. The world was changing. Gay marriage became legal in the UK, something I’d never dreamed would be possible. Positive role models started getting more exposure, not just in the entertainment industry, but also in the workplace. I wanted to be part of that change. So, I pushed myself to put some of those good traits to use.
I launched Capco’s first participation in London Pride in 2017, and it’s a memory that will stay with me forever because it was also the first time I marched personally. The support I felt from passers-by felt like nothing I’d experienced before. Colleagues and friends were over the moon at being able to support. Capco has participated every year since then and expanded the march to Edinburgh and Glasgow. I helped launch HR policies to ensure equality in the workplace and also expanded the Pride network on three separate occasions, over the course of five years. I shared my stories about why I thought it was important to be yourself in a corporate environment. I started to mentor individuals who I knew may be struggling because of their identities in one way or another, as I saw myself in them, particularly in people of colour. I built links with our global offices, recognising that although there is still a long way to go, we are incredibly lucky to be so free in the UK. Some people in other parts of the world are less fortunate. I signed Capco up to LGBTQ+ charity organisations to help fundraising efforts. I formed external partnerships with networks that help raise awareness and expand our reach. I started to help the firm get recognised for successes across the DEI landscape and last year, I was asked to take on the role of UK DEI co-sponsor. I relish the challenge and I cannot wait to get stuck in.
I am immensely proud to receive recognition as a role model. Being part of this wonderful, diverse community has not only helped me feel fulfilled at work, but it has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people along the way, allowed me to give back and hopefully made a few people happy.