British gay campaign organization Stonewall has launched a new guide celebrating positive gay role models in our workplaces.
Sponsored by IBM, the guide includes Lord Waheed Alli, the TV guru who became Britain’s first openly gay member of the House of Lords, and lesser-known figures like Liam Nolan, head teacher of what is officially the most improved school in the UK ever.
Also in the guide Sally Drew, a senior management consultant at IBM talks about being a lesbian mom.
And Liz Bingham from Ernst & Young explains how her boss encouraged her to come out by pointing out that she had been happier since starting a relationship with the woman she told her colleagues was her ‘flatmate’.
Another gay role model who tells his story in the guide is Neil Bentley, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry.
He comments: ‘Young people need to see there are people just like them in all walks of life.’
Whereas openly gay Conservative Member of Parliament Margot James points out: ‘If you are concealing an important part of your life then it’s difficult to be comfortable with others.’
At the guide’s launch at IBM’s UK headquarters yesterday (11 October) guests heard how ‘authentic’ honest leadership and mentoring could help lesbian, gay and bisexual staff reach their potential.
In his introduction to the guide Ben Summerskill, Stonewall’s chief executive, writes: ‘Young people tell us how much better they feel when they know another gay person and staff in big and small workplaces alike say they can imagine being successful when they see people like them succeeding.’
A list of tips at the end of the guide encourages employers to recognize and support role models at all levels of their organization.
And it encourages employees to ‘be courageous’ and realize they don’t have to be perfect: ‘If you’re openly gay at work, you’re a role model whether you like it or not.’