9 February LGBT+ History Month - a conversation with Dan Robertson
LGBT+ History Month - a conversation with Alderman Tim Hailes
February is LGBT+ History Month and as part of our focus on diversity and inclusion we are speaking to individuals in the City who identify as LGBTQ+.
We spoke to Alderman Tim Hailes.
Have you always felt comfortable as LGBT in The City ?
No. We sometimes forget that the climate and culture prevailing today wasn't always the case. I started my professional career in 1993 as an articled clerk in a major banking law firm. I was one of quite literally just a handful of openly gay lawyers in The City. Nowadays we have fantastic professional networks like InterLaw and it is almost unthinkable that you couldn't bring your whole self to the office in 2021 as LGBT (accepting there are still pockets of prejudice out there for some).
Have you always been open about your sexuality?
I first came out in 1988 at university - the year of the infamous Section 28 of the Local Government Act. I say ‘first’ came out because for the LGB strand of diversity you have a choice of concealment - as well as (even often now in 2021) a societal default presumption of heterosexuality - unlike, say, with gender or ethnicity. I went back into the proverbial closet when I started my first job - but that only lasted around 8 months. I've been open about my sexuality ever since - including in my first job on a major trading floor in 1995.
What can businesses do to increase LGBTQ+ inclusivity ?
I think there's an enormous amount of positive change and activity happening across the entire FPS sector. As I've said in other contexts listening is an underrated skill and one of the most important lessons we have hopefully drawn from BLM is that listening to others lived experience and perception is an important first step to understanding, change and reconciliation. Creating channels of communication such as employee networking groups is one of a number of ways to achieve that goal.
Is there a place for these conversations in business/the workplace ?
The case around the so-called ‘war for talent’ has now had numerous academic and research papers published and it is surely a statement of the blindingly obvious that talent comes in all shapes, sizes, colours and sexual orientations. So, it makes absolutely no business sense to narrow the recruitment pool and it makes no business sense to have a workplace environment that is hostile to diversity if you want maximum performance from all the talent in your organisation.
In addition, ‘the workplace’ isn't some kind of separate dimension in our existence. I hope we don't all hang up our humanity, civility and regard for one another because we go to ‘the workplace’; there is a basic decency and moral case here for inclusivity and respect.
If you want to know more about creating inclusive workplaces, become a member of The Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s Power of Inclusion initiative. The initiative aims to create a City that is inclusive and open to everyone. Inclusive workplaces are more productive, commercially successful, and have a happier and more engaged workforce. Membership enables your business to gain expert insights from others, share best practice on policies and programmes, and collaborate for effective change.