When I was making my training contract applications, I spent a lot of time hovering over the "diversity" checklist and deliberating whether I should put an honest answer. Of course, I knew that employers weren’t supposed to take any of that into account, but a little voice in the back of my head wondered "what if...?"
Eventually, I concluded that any employer that made decisions on that basis wasn’t one I wanted to work for. Regardless, I knew that in order to succeed, I needed to bring my whole self to work. And so, I promised myself that I would.
At Russell-Cooke I don’t feel the need to censor my weekend plans to avoid mentioning the gender of someone I might be going on a date with or edit my personal history when I talk about past relationships. Instead of using important headspace to worry about that, I am able to commit to improving all the things I am rightfully judged on; my work ethic, intellectual ability, and attitude to others.
Unfortunately, I know that this is not the case for many other LGBTQ+ people. As such, I still feel lucky that my colleagues see my sexuality as exactly what it is; a single characteristic, no more or less important that the fact that I love chocolate, don’t really understand sarcasm and have brown hair. They prefer to focus on all the things that make me a capable solicitor and valuable member of the team. As such, I am thankful for the work culture I am a part of.
However, this should not be the case. I should not feel grateful that this is my experience because this ought to be the experience afforded to everyone, no matter what perceived 'difference' might distinguish them from the still (sometimes) very narrowly-constructed societal 'norm'.
It is because of this that I am proud to be part of a firm that actively works towards improving the equality, diversity and inclusion within itself, as well the legal sector. It has been great to see Russell-Cooke spreading this message through all levels of the firm. From me as a trainee, right up to our partners. Everyone’s voice in this matter is welcome. Pride is the perfect time to shine a positive light on these issues, especially during what has been an incredibly challenging period.
I look forward to a time when my experience is no longer something I feel grateful for, and instead, is a minimum standard reflected for everyone.