Now Reading
LGBTI graduate honored for charity work inspired by bullying experience

LGBTI graduate honored for charity work inspired by bullying experience

Liam Hackett founded Ditch The Label an anti bullying charity | Photo: Instagram @diageoliam

The University of Sussex has given an honorary doctorate to an LGBTI graduate in recognition of his contribution to anti-bullying work.

In his acceptance speech, Ditch the Label CEO Liam Hackett credited his success to being authentic and out at work.

‘The best kind of workplace is an environment where all people are accepted. As well as encouraged to be themselves without fear of ridicule or abuse,’ he tells Gay Star News.

‘It is vital for employers to create open and diverse cultures that celebrate diversity.’

He founded the equality and anti-bullying charity aged just 16. Hackett was inspired to start the charity while growing up in a small town. Here he faced years of continuous bullying and homophobia.

But entrepreneurially spirited, he turned this hate into a positive action. While studying for his degree in business and management at the University of Sussex, he grew the charity.

Recently expanding into the USA and Mexico, Ditch The Label helps young people affected by bullying.

Professor Adam Tickell, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, says:

‘Liam Hackett’s drive to help other young people and his innovation and determination to succeed make him a role model.’

He is the youngest person to receive the university’s honorary doctorate award:

Authenticity is the key to success 

Hackett believes people are at their best when they feel supported and authentic. However, adds to GSN:

‘People are at their best when they feel supported and authentic – they feel positive about work, their health and satisfaction increases, they are more creative and ultimately flourish in this kind of environment.’

Em Sendall, Deloitte Consulting manager and co-chair of Deloitte’s LGBT+ network couldn’t agree more:

‘We want everyone at Deloitte to feel able to be themselves at work. To have a voice, be respected, and achieve, regardless of ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality or any other characteristic. Each of our ten diversity networks is critical to delivering this ambition.

‘GLOBE, our LGBT+ network, makes an ongoing material contribution through some key initiatives. These include marching in Pride parades, hosting events in our auditorium, appearing at student recruitment fairs and generating visible support across the firm through our Allies Programme using the specially branded merchandise.

‘We want to make sure LGBT+ people at Deloitte never feel they have to leave their identities at the door when they walk into the office.’

But, as Hackett remarks, not all employers are as inclusive as Deloitte:

‘Unfortunately, we still have a way to go regarding making all workplaces safe and diverse for everybody; regardless of unique factors such as sexuality, gender identity, race or disability. Therefore my advice to my community would be to try and seek out healthy workplaces that treat its employees with dignity, compassion, and respect.’

Advice for young LGBTI students and graduates

Hackett’s speech also spoke about how he overcame his fear of public speaking.

‘It took me years to rebuild my confidence up after the bullying at school. I relied on the support of friends, a therapist and a lot of self-help materials.

He suggests to anyone who wants to grow their confidence, to start small:

It is entirely reasonable to have a phobia of things like public speaking, and my advice would be to challenge it a little bit at a time.

‘Start by raising your hand to participate in a group discussion and gradually work your way up to speak for a few minutes in front of a small group of people. As you start to lose the anxiety and become more confident, increase the amount of time you talk for and the size of your crowd.’

Deloitte sponsors Gay Star Students. Find out more about what life is like working at Deloitte.

Read more from Gay Star Students:

Making your workplace trans inclusive is not hard. This is how to do it

‘Being authentic has transformed my career. It can do the same for you’