Bringing your authentic self to work: LGBTQ+ inclusivity at Aon
Category: testimonial, Aon, women in insurance, Pride Season, Insurance, AON Pride, Pride Month, Pride Event, Staff Testimonial, Insurance London, LGBTQ+, Pride Network, Aon Team Pride, LGBTQ+ Ally, LGBTQ+ Inclusion, LGBTQ+ Equality, LGBTQ+ Champion, LGBTQ+ Community, LGBTQ+ employee network, Pride events, LGBTQ+ Culture, LGBTQ+ Rights, LGBTQ+ History, LGBTQ+ visibility, Pride 2022
Laura Jenkins talks about the positive, supportive environment that has been created at Aon and how it has helped her career progression.
I joined Aon more than five years ago as a Director and Officers Underwriter. Since then, I have been promoted to Senior Underwriter – Team Leader and a lot of this is because I have been able to be myself at work from the very beginning.
The first person I met at Aon was my manager’s Personal Assistant. When she set me up with my laptop, I noticed she was wearing a rainbow lanyard and I initially thought she was gay, and thought it was great that she was so open about it. A few days later, it became clear that she was not gay, but she fully supported the LGBTQ+ community and chose to promote this every day at work.
Instantly, I felt at ease – it is amazing that something as simple as a piece of material around someone’s neck or an LGBTQ+ sticker on a colleague’s laptop can make such a difference. It wasn’t long before I stopped referring to my partner as “they” and felt comfortable enough to correct people if they assumed I was with a man.
When I started at Aon, I had only been out for a year. I came out to my friends and family relatively late at the age of 29, after being married to a man and having two children. I cannot highlight enough how important it is to be able to bring your whole self to work, to know you are in a safe place where you can speak freely about home life.
My confidence went through the roof when I was finally able to be honest about who I am in every part of my life. Without a doubt, this confidence had a positive impact on my performance at work. Having a supportive manager makes such a difference too – he is a great ally and he fully encourages me to promote the company’s Pride Alliance within our team and the wider Aon network.
I even won the company’s Inclusion Champion of the Year award. Honestly, I thought there were many other worthy winners, but it made me realise what an impact I made simply by being my authentic self in the workplace. I am part of a much bigger picture at Aon.
The company does so much for LGBTQ+ inclusion and our Diversity and Community Coordinator, Iain Chapman, works tirelessly. The Rainbow Cafes are a chance for LGBTQ+ people and their allies to come together, talk and share ideas. The UK Pride Alliance Committee organises fantastic events – everything from events for Lesbian Visibility Day, Trans Visibility Day to drag bingo, film screenings, virtual quizzes and virtual drinks parties.
It makes good business sense – as well as being the right thing to do – for Aon to encourage diversity of thought and perspectives in recruitment and training, and provide opportunities to create an innovative workforce. It leads to great outcomes that bring the best of Aon to our clients, while the team works in an environment where morale is outstanding. A diverse, open, equitable, inclusive workplace will attract and retain the best talent, based on skill sets, personality and ambition with zero judgement about the full breadth of differences which make us individuals.
Pride has become an event that is very close to my heart, especially when my partner explained why it was so important to her. She had many struggles growing up as a gay teenager, which was something I never had to go through because I realised who I truly was when I was an adult. Now, I understand why we need to keep celebrating Pride each year – as long as there is discrimination in the world against LGBTQ+ people, we have to wave the flag and be seen and heard.
But this year, I have a very special reason for missing out on this year’s Pride events – my partner and I will be getting married during Pride Month. We might not be able to make it to all the events as we usually do, but it is great to be able to celebrate Pride by living in a country where we can get married and shout from the rooftops that we love each other. We love a good knees-up and we can’t wait!
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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