As LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender) History Month 2017 draws to a close, our LGBT Network, Connect, is looking ahead to what the group hopes will be another successful year in helping Carillion to become one of the leading companies when it comes to being one of the best LGBT-friendly places to work.
Steve Child is a director with TPS Schal, part of Carillion’s construction business which provides comprehensive planning, engineering design and consultancy services.
And for Steve – being yourself at work is one of the most important things you can do – because you never know when you’ll need the support of your colleagues…
“One of the trends at Pride events across 2016 saw many people in the LGBT community posting a #NoFilter story on social media. A point where they truly realised they could be themselves and have pride in who they were. Here’s mine.
Being a bit older than many of my work colleagues now makes me realise what a long story I have to tell but there is one moment in my working life that made all the difference. This moment has become a sort of touchstone moment of how important it is to be yourself. How important it was to me that being myself also meant my work colleagues could also see me as a whole person.
That moment came at a really difficult time for me. I wasn’t “out” at work but also I wasn’t hiding who I truly was. It was a sort of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” situation – no one asked and I didn’t tell. Those that were close already knew I was gay and most, as far as I could tell, weren’t interested anyway. This was 2004. I had been with my partner for 10 years.
What made it a difficult time was he was gravely ill and my life was in turmoil. When he died I really didn’t know what was happening to me but work was certainly a long way from my thoughts – my friends and family were amazingly supportive. Then the completely unexpected happened. The next day I got a phone call from my line manager, my boss, the Managing Director – he rang me to say he was really sorry to hear the news about my partner, not to worry about work and contact him again only when I was ready.
Firstly, I had no idea my boss knew I was gay.
Secondly, because he did know it helped him understand what a huge impact this was having on me – so he could respond appropriately.
Thirdly, and in retrospect, it was important and very reassuring for me to know that work (and particularly my boss) understood.
So my #NoFilter moment is one that shows me that bringing my whole self to work also helped my work support me in the most difficult of times.
This is my big hope for Carillion Connect – enabling and supporting all LGBT colleagues in Carillion to be themselves. Showing them that by being yourself you can not only make your own life better but also gives permission to those around you to treat you and your life just like any other – without misunderstanding, awkwardness or prejudice – but with the understanding of who you truly are.