A 'quieter voice' within the LGBTQ+ community
At Nationwide we ensure our people are empowered to be themselves. Throughout Pride month, we're celebrating Pride with colleagues sharing their stories and creating open discussions, enabling them to learn more about Pride and LGBTQ+ representation. We spoke with Director of People Services, Neil, who describes himself as ‘a quieter voice’ within the LGBTQ+ community.
He shares his story and the advice he’d give to his younger self...
“I grew up in Pembrokeshire in southwest Wales, within a beautiful national park. I had a great childhood, with beaches on our doorstep, woods to explore and a loving family. But when I was 12, I started to get bullied. I went from a small rural primary school to a much larger secondary school with over 1,000 kids, and I must’ve seemed a bit different. They used to call me gay; at that time, I didn’t even understand what it meant – and I don’t think they did, either. But those early experiences shaped me.
It created an inner anxiety in me, but it also gave me those elements of vulnerability, emotional intelligence and empathy that have played a key role in my career.
I’ve always been out at work but perhaps with less confidence than today. I thought being gay would hold me back. But in my first job someone said to me, ‘I’ve never met a gay person before’. They weren’t judging or being discriminatory; they were just super curious. That helped me realise that being gay was not a barrier and it helped me to be me.
At Nationwide, I’ve never had anything but positivity and support. Asking open questions in a human and personable way like I’ve experienced may help others to feel and be more like themselves in the workplace – that’s allyship in action.
Now, I’d tell my younger self to be more curious about gay culture – to learn more about the movements and the struggles that people have endured. The rights I take for granted – being allowed to marry my husband, for example – were fought for over many years through great hardship, pain and inequality”.
Our Proud Network and People & Culture community have worked hard over the last year with inclusion partners, colleagues and leaders across the Society to improve the support we give to LGBTQ+ employees and members. And we're proud to be ranked within the Top 100 Inclusive Employers by Stonewall.