June is Pride month; a time to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, raise awareness of Pride history, and continue to promote equality. Although some events and celebrations across the UK have been cancelled due to current restrictions, Telent is celebrating Pride Month with a series of stories throughout June.
This Pride Month off, Amie Pryal, a Communications Advisor at Telent, shares her experiences below of coming out in the workplace.
When a call went out last month to ask for colleagues to share their stories and experiences, I was hit by two feelings: nervousness about stepping into the spotlight to share a personal story, and the other a sense of how important it is to take part in conversations around Pride month.
I realised I was bisexual just before I hit my twenties, but it took a few years after that to come out to friends and family. I’d thought that once you had the courage to come out to your loved ones, that would be it – one big ‘ta-da!’ moment and then you begin a whole new chapter of your life.
But you’re always choosing whether or not to come out to people throughout your life, particularly in the workplace. As a community, I think we spend a lot of energy discussing coming out to family and friends, but don’t often talk about coming out at work.
It’s unfortunate as it can be just as challenging, and can lead to people staying in the ‘professional closet’ for the majority of their lives. This can often be due to fear of being treated differently, or from past experiences, or worry about not being accepted.
A lot of wasted energy
As soon as I talk about a partner to a new person, it feels like a choice is made: do I hide or be open? Do I let people make their own assumptions or do I correct them? You don’t want to hide things from people you respect, but at the same time you’re never sure of what reaction you might get. While most people I’ve met haven’t batted an eyelid, it only takes one or two narrow minds to make things difficult, which can then affect interactions with people in the future.
Choosing to hide it becomes pretty exhausting after a while. In other jobs, I felt that I was constantly monitoring conversations whenever questions about home life were brought up, or I would use ten different words to avoid having to reveal the gender of my partner. It’s a lot of wasted energy.
On some level, I think other people know when you’re being evasive. It can affect relationships with colleagues, as they’re less likely to confide in you. You also miss out on a level of trust that’s important in all relationships – whether that’s with a partner, a friend, or a teammate.
An open and inclusive culture
There have been other roles where I’ve not felt comfortable telling my manager or my team about myself. But I’ve never felt worried about talking openly at Telent. Everyone I’ve met has been very welcoming and friendly, which contributes to the open culture here.
Having Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) as a core part of Telent is also a huge positive for me. It’s great to work for a business that’s invested in promoting an inclusive culture so that people feel they belong. I’ve worked for a few organisations where this hasn’t been the case, so coming to work for Telent has been really positive.
To anyone struggling about whether to be open at work, I hear you. Choosing to come out can be exhausting and often nerve-wracking.
Personally, I’ve found that being myself at work has led to a more positive mental state and more confidence in my professional abilities. I also feel that I’m more able to build positive relationships with my colleagues and wider teams and have built a stronger professional network over the years than I could have imagined.
Telent is committed to promoting equality in and out of the workplace and is proud to celebrate pride month with all of our employees in the LGBTQIA+ community by sharing their coming out experiences. All year round we are dedicated in providing a safe, friendly and inclusive work environment.