I took part in the Stonewall Talent programme (now the Young Leaders programme) before starting my final year at University.
My journey through University involved moving to London and leaving my small home town in the North West of England. Life in the ‘big city’ allowed me to explore my identity and sexuality relatively freely, a luxury I hadn’t had previously. After this journey of becoming comfortable with myself, the Talent programme allowed me to get comfortable with how I, and my identity, fitted in to the greater LGBT picture. I consider it to be a defining moment in my journey of understanding who I am. I got to interact and form relationships with many other people from the LGBT community, sharing our experiences and journeys through the many dimensions and spectra of our identities.
During the programme we explored the concept of authenticity and what it means to be an LGBT leader in the workplace. I was introduced to many people working in a wide range of industries, which allowed me to get a grasp of the current situation for LGBT people in the world of work. I learned of the advances that had been made and the barriers that still had to be overcome.
The Talent programme gave me the confidence and understanding I needed to start asking the right questions when I entered the workplace after graduating from University. In my first few months at work I took what I had learned from my experience with Stonewall and put it into practice. I was able to connect with some other LGBT people, both in my office in London and within my organisation around the world. I worked closely with a small team in the UK to form the first ever UK LGBT network within my organisation and we are currently preparing for its official launch. I’m very grateful for the skills and confidence I developed through the Stonewall Talent programme and am excited to see where they will take me in the future.