Believing in accessibility for all

Being LGBT at work

By Andrew Finch, Customer Experience Manager

As an openly gay man, I’ve never felt the need to hide who I am at work. I met my first partner while at work so everyone knew and it was fine. I can’t quite believe that was 30 years ago now, but I can honestly say that in all of my time working for the council and for Wolverhampton Homes, starting as a trainee, through many years in tenancy management and now as Customer Experience Manager, I’ve never once experienced any prejudice or been made to feel uncomfortable about my sexuality at work.

I do understand though why some people may feel reluctant to come out at work. In my experience and from talking to my friends, I know that for some, while they may be out in their personal lives, they worry about what colleagues at work may think. Will being openly gay impact on how they get on with their colleagues, will they be treated differently as perhaps they were at school or elsewhere, will opinions be formed or decisions made based on conscious or unconscious bias?

We all have our biases and they’re formed by our experiences, our relationships, and influences in life. That’s why I think being a positive role model and being open about who you are is so important at work – it helps to change mindsets, it allows colleagues to get to know you for who you really are, and it allows you to feel comfortable in building those great working relationships – and that doesn’t mean you have to talk about all aspects of your personal life if you don’t want to.

We have an active 'Equality Champions' staff network where employees from across the business come together to arrange events and activities that celebrate the diversity of our business and our city. Over recent months their work has included lunch and learn sessions from Stonewall and the introduction of a new equalities e-learning module which is now mandatory for all colleagues.

It’s good to know that at Wolverhampton Homes we recognise that people perform better when they can be themselves. We want everyone to feel comfortable at work and not feel that they have to hide their sexuality. We also recognise the importance of raising awareness of unconscious bias and of reassuring people that they will always be treated fairly and with respect.