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Celebrating a personal decade of diversity and inclusion at Aon

Category: LGBTQ+ employee network, Pride Network, LGBTQ+ Ally, LGBTQ+ Inclusion, Celebrating Pride, LGBTQ+ Equality, LGBTQ+ Champion, LGBTQ+ Community, testimonial, Aon, Insurance, AON Pride, Pride Month, Pride Event, Staff Testimonial, Insurance London, LGBTQ+, Pride events, LGBTQ+ Culture, LGBTQ+ Rights, LGBTQ+ History, LGBTQ+ visibility, Pride 2022

LGBTQ+

Aon Pride 2022

Josh Rowland

In his 10 years at Aon, Josh Rowland has always found diversity and inclusion for everyone embedded in the company’s culture.

I joined Aon straight out of college on an apprenticeship programme. That was 10 years ago and in that time, I have been able to climb the corporate ladder and work in different business units. Today, I am a Governance and Analytics Manager in the UK Risk and Compliance function.

When I started with Aon, I was 18 and pretty naive to the world of big business and corporations. My office was in Farnborough and it took me a few years to become aware of the breadth and scope of Aon’s work, as well as its inclusive culture and policies. I learned that there was so much more to the company than just the office where I worked.

For me, coming out as a gay man at Aon was never a big issue. I was already out when I was at college and I have always been able to bring my authentic self to work. Thankfully, I never felt I had to hide who I was, or not talk about my husband by name, but I am so grateful for the LGBTQ+ people and supporting allies who paved the way for me to be able to do this.

My own freedom was starkly highlighted at an external event that I attended. A panel speaker – a gay man who was more mature in his career journey – opened up about how he hid his true identity at work for many years before finally coming out. He even went as far as to make up a woman’s name for his partner, rather than being able to be open with his colleagues that he had a male partner. It made me truly realise how fortunate I have been as this has never been my experience during my career and Aon has long been a leader in LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

This is why the work Aon does with diversity and inclusion is so important – it is a commitment to everyone, not just LGBTQ+ colleagues. So many aspects come under the company’s considerations of diversity – mental health, age, the needs of parents and carers and social mobility to name a few – so we don’t have to hide our true selves in the workplace.

I have been part of a range of company initiatives for LGBTQ+ colleagues, such as our business resource group, Aon’s Pride Alliance, and getting involved with policies, training and events. Thanks to this open culture, I am empowered to speak freely and share ideas with C-suite executives about LGBTQ+ issues when the opportunities arise. Globally, Aon’s Inclusive Leadership Council and its regional sub-committees continue to drive the agenda for the whole company, listening to colleagues and taking account of changes in our external environment.

Pride in London is going to be a special event this year, with an in-person parade taking place for the first time since 2019. The application form to participate asks us what groups we represent and I am pleased to say we represent everyone under the LGBTQ+ and allies umbrella. We hope to join other financial industry groups in this year’s march, representing just how far-reaching across the industry as a whole has come in terms of LGBTQ+ inclusion.

One of Aon Pride Alliance’s charity initiatives is Opening Doors, which involves the intersection of Aon’s inclusivity aims for LGBTQ+ people and older generations. The charity helps elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community expand their social circles and improve quality of life. This is really rewarding work and we hope to support Opening Doors in this year’s Pride in London in some way.

As well as marching in London, we will be taking the opportunity to support and collaborate with Aon colleagues who will be involved in other Pride events across the UK, hopefully including Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff. June is going to be such an exciting month, especially as we hope to do a global 24 Hours of Pride event. Starting in New Zealand, events will be rolled out across time zones worldwide, alongside other colleague-focused events and collaborations across the month.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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