Work in Pride Charter
We believe equality is a human right.
“Be yourself in your entirety, you have every right to take up space, so own it!”
Karina Hunter, Drama Teacher
At the time, I was a black lesbian working in a private boarding school, so I was very conscious not to disclose too much information about my personal life to my colleagues. Most of my peers were older and I’ve associated that with old school beliefs and prejudices. I assumed that if my school knew my identity, it would prevent me from being considered for promotions and there might also be bias towards me socially.
At times, it was tough to hide who I really was; I felt like a fraud. In my personal life, I am a fun-loving female who grew up in London, and I am close to my friends and family who make me feel completely supported, loved, and accepted. While at work, I would teach my pupils all about relationships, body language and acting, but I felt like I was putting on an act the whole time by concealing parts of my true self.
My partner at the time lived in Scotland, but when it came to discussing my weekend plans with colleagues, I would shy away from saying who I was seeing or where I was going – I would instead make up stories about visiting a sibling. After a while, I realised I was hiding something about myself that I should be proud of and being true to myself is more important for my own self-worth.
“My identity transcends employment, and my skills and talent transcend my personal identity”
Keane Spenle, Marketing Assistant at The Body Shop
I had a brief stint in a well-known bar and restaurant chain - a job I had to take out of necessity at the time. Every aspect of our individual identity was sapped out of us, and the environment fostered, and in some cases, encouraged, negative behaviour from staff and patrons alike. Although we all wore a uniform, my queerness must have been apparent in my mannerisms and body language. I would celebrate my identity outside, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t at work because I would be met with confrontation.
I was still treated badly, even though I didn’t share my sexuality or gender identity with anyone. There was a member of management who identified as a cisgender gay man. I was eager to confide in this person, only to find that they had no interest in supporting me. They essentially ‘othered’ me because I didn’t fit into even their perception of acceptable.
At the point of joining that job, as a non-binary person I was not as confident in my sexuality and gender as I am now. My personal and professional life were like night and day. Looking back, this experience was traumatic and could have had further serious implications to my mental health had I not made the decision to leave.
Today, I am firm in my stance that I will not work for companies that do not reflect my values as a human being. Socially, I deliberately don’t put myself in situations where my community is not accepted or respected. I understand this is a very privileged position to be in and people don’t always have that luxury, so that’s why I’m sharing my story – to bring further awareness to the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community face.
My identity transcends employment and my skills and talent transcend my personal identity – if an employer wants to hire me, they must want to hire all of me.
“Pride is about community, but it begins within. Love yourself. I take pride in my authentic self so that I can bring that pride into the world.”
Rich Watkins, Freelancer
I was exploring my sexuality as a young gay man during the same year I had my first paid job in the corporate world. I was only 22 at the time and desperate to be liked by my colleagues. The role was for an intellectual property company based in the city, so I thought best to conceal my true self and ‘play it straight’ so I could present what I thought to be the most professional version of myself. A classic case of Heteronormativity - suit and tie, dress shoes and absolutely no rainbow glitter.
My boyfriend at the time was enjoying gay nights out with his corporate friends, but at my job there were only 14 employees, with 11 of them aged over 50. There was an unspoken pressure for men to act how a man ‘should’ and women to act ‘like women’. Come Friday though, I’d wait in the toilet until most of the office had gone home to rip my tie off, chuck away my suit and come out dressed in my ‘real life’ clothes – a sequin top and jeans, ready for Soho or Shoreditch.
I remember just before Christmas I was given a shoe-shining kit for my Secret Santa present and that was the final straw for me. I made it my new year’s resolution to ‘quit that job’. That was ten years ago, and I haven’t set foot in that world since.
I don’t think the ramifications of having to hide myself like that really hit me for many years. It took a long time to undo the confusion I had during that time. Because of the world we live in, I grew up believing it was “better” to be straight; that I would be “better” if I was straight. And my time in the corporate world really reinforced that. So, although I was very proudly out of the closet when I left the job, it took several years for me to realise that I wouldn’t be “better” if I was straight, because I wouldn’t be me at all. And I’m just great the way I am!
Now, I work in the creative industry where being expressive and an individual is celebrated. I feel much happier now that I am free from an industry where heteronormativity seems like the only stream of consciousness.
Our guiding principles
We celebrate the diversity of individual expression.
We recognize and respect the gender identity and gender expression of all of our trans and non-binary colleagues.
We know that people feel better and also perform better when they can be their truest selves.
“Don’t dim your light. Live a life showing your authentic self and never hide your beauty away, because the world deserves to see it!”
Arian Humirang, Reception & Concierge Manager
I’m a 34-year-old Filipino Immigrant and Proud Non-Binary person but there’s been times that people would resort to name calling instead of talking to me and asking about me. I’ve been called Fairy, The Gay One or The Filipino Gay before.
I used to work in the hotel industry where uniforms were mandatory. I was constantly told to change out of my fitted outfit into the men’s version of the suit, but I chose to stand firm. A man wearing a dress does not limit their capabilities nor would a woman, wearing a suit. I believe in visual representation for my community as a positive and I wish a lot more people would see this too.
I’m lucky to now be in a workspace where I not only feel accepted, but celebrated for who I am, but I’m aware that not everyone is as fortunate to have a positive and affirming workspace where you can be your authentic self and not be judged for it. My advice to anyone from the community facing these challenges is stay true to who you are as hard as that may be. Find your work tribe, they will help you flourish.
Don’t ever dim your light. Live a life showing your authentic self and never hide your beauty away because the world deserves to see it!