How one company built a truly inclusive workplace by turning mentorship on its head and empowering its young queer staff

Charlie Clark, Geffrye Parsons and Harry Clifton, chairs of Macquarie’s LGBT+ staff network, Pride, write for PinkNews about the importance of LGBT+ staffers leading the drive for diversity and inclusivity in corporate companies.

Starting a new job is a daunting experience, and most LGBT+ people will start in a new company wondering: “Where do I fit in?” Our reply to that question? Anywhere.

That is in no small part because a diverse and inclusive workplace environment is greatly valued at Macquarie.

At Macquarie, we have an active Pride network steering committee that supports our senior leaders and acts as mentors for several of them – the network’s reverse mentoring scheme.

We have a great team of dedicated mentors who identify as LGBT+ who commit to meeting for a casual, yet informative, conversations with our most senior executives across the business, to really get to the heart of what we believe they need to hear – and it’s been great to feel their commitment to learning and making a difference as a result.

A recent executive mentee, Kit Hamilton, co-head of Macquarie’s Infrastructure Debt Investment Solutions business, observes: “For me, it was an opportunity to openly discuss different ideas that could be implemented to make things easier for LGBT+ staff.

“I have many friends who are gay, but at times I’m still unsure about the correct language to use around LGBT+ matters, so I personally found this really helpful to better understand what can be misconstrued, and how to be a more confident and informed advocate.”

(L-R) Charlie Clark, Geffrye Parsons and Harry Clifton, chairs of Macquarie’s LGBT+ staff network, Pride. (Supplied)

While you may find yourself questioning the point of a younger or less experienced professional opening up and sharing with a more senior colleague, we believe it helps in breaking down stereotypes.

In sharing different perspectives, senior staff build connections, empathy and understanding which has meant our senior advocates get it and are passionate about taking action to ensure Macquarie remains a place where we can all be ourselves and do our best work.

Mark Dooley, global head of Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and executive sponsor of the Pride at Macquarie network, says: “As much as I felt strongly about the need to move on the issue [of diversity and inclusion] before I became a sponsor, being directly involved has given me a whole new layer of awareness of the journey and challenges that LGBT+ colleagues face.

“‘Bring your whole self to work’, which I love as a mantra and a profound objective, is further away than I thought it was, but must remain our unswerving goal.”

Sarah Fennell, head of diversity and inclusion (D&I) for Macquarie Group in EMEA, adds: “Pride (Macquarie’s LGBT+ staff network) play a huge role in making Macquarie a more inclusive (and fun) place to work for everyone.

“They collaborate with HR and senior leaders, on a number of important issues and initiatives as representatives and advocates for our LGBT+ employee population and allies. They ensure that D&I work at Macquarie is always intersectional and strive to make a better workplace for everyone.”

A lobby window (L) and a display detailing how Section 28 was repealed at Pride at Macquarie 2019. (Supplied)

A lobby window (L) and a display detailing how Section 28 was repealed at Pride at Macquarie 2019. (Supplied)

For the last three years, Pride at Macquarie has also arranged a number of events with other corporates creating a networking opportunity for some of the most senior executives in the City of London, to share experiences and learn from each other too.

One such event focused on the daily challenges the LGBT+ community face in the workplace, and how executive sponsors can become agents of change by driving continual improvement.

For us ensuring our most senior executives at Macquarie are not only educated about, but active advocates for LGBT+ inclusion at a personal level is priceless – working together with the ultimate goal of leaving the company better than we found it.

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