David Catterall - Civic Venue Manager
In my previous life I was a hotel general manager before I was made redundant. I was out of work for 10 weeks and in that time, my partner found me alternative employment within his organisation answering phones on a reception desk.
In both these workplaces, I was always out, I never had to hide any aspect of my identity and I would always refer to my boyfriend openly.
However, six years ago, I found new employment where no one knew me or my boyfriend. On my first day, walking towards the door, I felt extremely nervous and asked myself do I have to come out again? I had always been out, comfortable and included; not different.
Here however, day one of a new job, the question had to be answered, but not straight away. I had to judge the situation, the people, the job, the customers, my manager. In a split second panic, I thought, what if this is an environment where I could not be myself?
Thankfully, I realised very quickly that the workplace I was now in was totally inclusive and I felt like a weight had been lifted.
Creating an inclusive workplace is key to getting the best out of staff. I can pay testament to the fact that being able to be yourself allows you to do your job to the best of your ability.
I have subsequently joined the LGBT employee group, who's aim is to make all staff feel included and happy. It was being part of this group that made me decide I needed to be more vocal on the issues that impact on LGBT employees and more supportive. It was then I was able to join the role model programme.
The role model programme allowed me to reflect on how I am perceived in the workplace.
Moreover, it empowered me to be aware of my potential as a role model to other members of staff, so they might be themselves in the work environment, not only in terms of sexual orientation but with regard to every aspect of their identity.
I challenge all forms of negative and exclusionary language and behaviour, to show that if you are different you are not treated differently.
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