On the 6th of July we hosted our first QTalk in celebration of London Pride 2018. You can read our recent blog about the launch here.
Matthew Flood, General Council at Ingeus came and spoke to Qubytes about what it means to be “Out and Proud in the Workplace”. Matt shared some great insights about his journey in the gay community and below are the key points that really stood out for me.
Be proud of what you do
Matt spoke about his many professional achievements and working his way up the corporate ladder, but this was not what he was most proud of. What made him most proud was when he took a stand and decided to be out and proud as a gay executive. As a consequence, Matt formed the first LGBTQ network within the construction industry, a network that still exists today giving people in the LGBTQ construction community a place to connect without prejudice and be themselves.
Be your true self
When asked by colleagues on a Monday morning “How was your weekend?”, Matt admitted he found this a difficult question to answer before he was out. Whilst everyone in the office would share their stories, he was afraid to talk about his “partner” or what he had got up to on the weekend because he felt as though he would be judged. This was until a colleague said to him that the ‘Matt in the pub and outside of work’, the “fun Matt”, was a totally different person to the ‘Matt at work’, and challenged him to be “himself” more in the professional environment.
This awareness became the catalyst for him to be his true self, even when at work. Something that took a lot of courage but really paid off in the end. It’s amazing how much energy it can take to hide who you really are.
Mind your language
Matt shared a few stories of how people in the workplace would lack awareness of what they were saying, making derogatory references in conversation about being gay, not realising how hurtful they were being.
There were instances where even the CEO was the culprit. Matt decided to make a stand, making the leader of the organisation aware that he ‘cast a long shadow’ as a leader and what he was saying was not ok.
For me, this applies to anything we say in any conversation. Are we always aware of what we say, or how we are saying it?
Matt’s personal stories created awareness around just some of the challenges the LGBTQ community face. The conversation provided a brilliant demonstration of how standing up for what you believe in is important. Leadership casts a long shadow and Matt felt that if the CEO was not made aware of how hurtful those words were, that language could be embedded in an organization and continue to hurt more people.
Matt’s experiences haven’t been limited to the UK, as an Australian he also faced equally challenging environments their - highlighting that this happens all over the world.
What’s next for QTalks?
Keeping with the global theme, I’m delighted to announce our next QTalk speaker - Robert Winder - who is coming to speak to Qubytes about migration.
Like Matt, I’m also an immigrant to the UK, having moved here 15 years ago from South Africa - a decision that has personally had a huge impact on my life! You can’t move for headlines around Brexit, it’s a massive topic. For Qubit, immigration is incredibly important, we have many many talented people from all over the globe in our worldwide offices.
Robert is a journalist - former Books Page Editor of the Independent - and author of several novels and history books, including Bloody Foreigners: the Story of Immigration to Britain. This book has helped inspire a new Museum of Migration, of which he is a trustee.
Robert joins us on the 26th of July at 2pm where the theme for his talk is a walk he led last year from Cutty Sark to right where Qubit HQ is located in Covent Garden. On this walk he highlighted all the migrant echoes along the way, and the influence it has had.
Keep an eye out for the latest updates on the blog and if you, or someone you might know, would be interested in featuring in a QTalk then please send me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org