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My Pride Story
London partner and co-chair of our LGBT+ Spectrum network shares his Pride story

Adrian Beasley is a partner in our London office and co-chair of our LGBT+ Spectrum network. During global Pride month, he shares his #MyPrideStory and explains why supporting LGBT+ colleagues as an ally is important for everyone.

What does it mean to be an ally for the LGBT+ community?
Being aware that all individuals are different and the fact those differences can lead to disadvantages is an important first step in seeking to address inequalities in the workplace and in the wider community.

Standing up as an ally for LGBT+ individuals is one way that we can join in the conversation around diversity issues and show solidarity with our LGBT+ colleagues. Being an ally helps to make our LGBT+ colleagues feel comfortable and part of an inclusive working environment where everyone can be themselves without fear of prejudice or discrimination. It's also about recognising that what many of us take for granted in our day-to-day lives is by no means universal. 
 
Why is it important for everyone to be their whole, authentic self at work and why is Spectrum an important community for LGBT+ colleagues and allies?
People are more likely to perform to the best of their ability if they feel they can be themselves at work without fear of judgment, criticism or prejudice. If that reassurance doesn't exist, individuals identifying as LGBT+ will be required to constantly evaluate whether to join a particular conversation, how best to put their views across, whether their contribution will be valued and/or whether a particular interpretation will be assigned to it.

Given the numerous interactions that make up a typical working day, it is not difficult to appreciate the additional stress that such an environment would undoubtedly engender for LGBT+ individuals. This becomes even more important when you consider how much time we all spend at work and the fact that work (including the human interactions that are integral to it) is a large part of most people's lives.

The more we can do to make people feel that everyone is valuable and has a contribution to make, irrespective of our differences, the more productive and meaningful that contribution will be. The various Spectrum affinity networks across the Firm, together with their associated allies programmes, are effective platforms for showing this support to LGBT+ colleagues.

What does the Firm do to foster a stronger sense of belonging for all?
White & Case takes a keen interest in promoting and celebrating diversity as a source of strength and positivity and has encouraged and empowered the various affinity networks to drive forward their own initiatives in helping to achieve that central goal. There is now more (and more visible) support for diversity initiatives across all levels of the Firm, underlining the message that we all have a role to play. 

The introduction of a set of core values has further strengthened our identity as a Firm and created a sense that we are all moving in the same direction, including with respect to diversity issues.
 
Does your experience as an LGBT+ ally positively impact your work and/or your career?
Absolutely!  First of all, it gives me the opportunity to be a part of something that is inherently focussed on making improvements in the workplace for individuals that may otherwise have considered themselves to be disadvantaged or the subject of discrimination. It also provides interactions with individuals from across the Firm that I would not otherwise have any connection with and whose experiences can help further my own understanding.

Finally, standing up and being counted as an ally has encouraged non-LGBT+ individuals to come forward and talk to me about completely unrelated issues affecting their working lives, because they are confident that they are talking to the "right" kind of person. In that respect, being an LGBT+ ally has also given me opportunities to perform a wider pastoral role in the workplace.

What's your advice for the next generation of LGBT+ professionals and allies?
The responsibility is on allies to continue to support Spectrum and what it stands for and to advance equality for everyone, irrespective of their differences. Allies should use their voices to support and celebrate their LGBT+ colleagues to ensure that they always feel comfortable and safe to do the same and to be themselves. I hope that our LGBT+ colleagues always feel comfortable enough to be able to voice their concerns and to let others know how things could be done better and to know that the Firm encourages diversity and inclusivity. Overall, we need to start by acknowledging that we all have a role to play in creating that environment.

LGBT+ individuals should be proud of who they are and not try to hide their true identity from others. Nor should they be afraid to vocalise concerns, so that the Firm can take steps to address issues as they arise. We are all in a learning process but only by raising issues and having these discussions can we move forward. After all, it was only due to the courage and enthusiasm of one or two LGBT+ individuals that said we need to create this network that Spectrum got off the ground in the first place. But there is always more work to be done!

How will you celebrate Pride virtually this year?
It is unfortunate, although understandable, that the London Pride march has been postponed this year. The Spectrum Committee had been working hard on plans and venues to create a truly memorable day out for all. Notwithstanding, there is going to be a good deal of online content celebrating Pride month (not to mention online footage of previous Pride celebrations, with a uniquely "London" feel to it!) for those of you who wish to re-create a little of the Pride atmosphere in your own homes.

I will also be following up on some of the film and book recommendations which are being published as part of the Spectrum communications for this month and encourage everyone to do the same. Enjoy!