Mercer certainly wasn’t my first job, but more than any other role, my passion for diversity and inclusion, and in particular LGBTQ+ issues has really come to a fore – so what triggered this?
I’ve been gay all my life – although not always open. I understand how it feels to be on the outside; someone who does not fit, someone who people label as “different”. In my youth, this led to lots of angst, bullying and misery. Fast forward to my 40s, and I’m confident, determined, out & proud! But what my personal journey taught me applies to many minorities and people who face challenges for who they are or where they came from. That is not to say that I understand every experience everyone has faced, but I know what it feels like to be on the outside. Over the course of my life, I first got used to, then learned to push back and challenge those who made me feel like that.
So what was it about working at Mercer that trigger such an increase in engagement? In part, as you hit middle age, you start to ask the question “what difference does this make?” and you feel the need to be doing something that makes a difference (for the better.) But what really increased my involvement in D&I matters at Mercer was my own misconceptions – I assumed that corporate business at best paid lip service to D&I, and at worst was tolerant of intolerance. What I found at Mercer was that this really isn’t the case. I am openly gay, outspoken, with facial piercings and a large beard – and I still feel respected and valued. It horrified me when I heard that almost 2/3 of grads go back into the closet when they start work in the corporate world. Have we worked so hard and sacrificed so much for so little progress? And the same goes for the pay gap between men & women, the disproportionate representation of ethnic minorities, the rights of trans people, the accessibility to the workplace for those with disabilities?
This stuff matters because it represents society – and I’m proud to work for a business that is accepting of the gap and working to make it better. I could passively look on as others do something, or I could become involved and feel part of the change. This has led me to take my boldest step yet as an out & proud gay man in the corporate world.
On 1st September, I’m part of a team hosting #InThisTogether, an all day event at the Tower of London, focused on intersectionality and LGBTQ+. We have massive support from our businesses, and we are dealing with some serious topics: race, disability, mental health, inclusion; all with LGBTQ+ themes. It’s been very demanding, exciting and stressful to organise, but the fact that a global player like MMC – and the 4 operating companies Oliver Wyman, Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Mercer care enough to be involved is probably why I, too stepped up to play my part. For those joining us for the event, I hope you have an informative and empowering day. For those wondering whether it’s time for them to make a stand, reflect on my experience and step forward! If you’d like to join the event for the day, you can get your free ticket here: http://bit.ly/2eL4lrS