​​​​​​​Why is LGBT+ inclusion important to you?  

I think that the topic of inclusion is really important and it goes back to a childhood experience that I had. I was in a situation where being in the bottom set of a school class meant I really struggled in school and felt left behind. When I moved to a different school where there were only about 18 kids in the class, compared with 45-50 in the previous school, I got a lot more attention from the teacher and felt much more included. I felt it was an environment where I was animated, joined the discussions, and was involved. From that year on, I went from being at the bottom of the class to the top of the class in the new school.  

My journey evolved and the key learning for me was with the wrong environment you can really suffer and struggle. Whereas if you have the right environment, you can really flourish. And I think anybody like me, a person in a role of responsibility, must try and develop as inclusive a culture as possible so that people feel they can show up with their full personality at work and feel like they belong.  

In any company, inclusion definitely requires the right leadership that allows people to feel they can truly be themselves. Because only then can people tap into their true potential.  

When you join a new company or start a new role, how do you embed inclusion from the get-go? 

There's a lot of science behind this, it's absolutely essential for leadership teams to have a diverse mix of people and thinking.  The inherent difficulty is if you have a team where everybody thinks alike, most people will feel comfortable in the team and have friendly discussions. However, as such teams tend to avoid difficult discussions and don’t allow room for diverse opinions, they inevitably will not take the best decisions, because they haven’t looked at the issues from all angles. If you have a diverse team, it probably will involve more challenging discussion because you will have different perspectives. There will be debating and some discomfort, but you're going to make much better decisions. You have to be willing to take a bit of potential pain (more controversial discussions) to get to a much better outcome.  


How do you personally embed inclusion into your leadership? 

As a leader it is important to look below the surface at what the underlying issues are and help address them. It's not enough from an allyship point of view to just be a mouthpiece and to talk about the need for more inclusion. It's important through discussion to understand where the real issues and challenges are. And then, together, develop an approach that will take those challenges into account and deal with them. So, I would encourage all of our LGBTQ+ community to share their experiences and suggestions of what we can be doing better. 

Through our reverse mentoring programme, JM employees pair with a senior leader to share their unique experiences and perspectives. The programme aims to open the perspectives of leaders at JM as to what certain marginalised communities experience, while also giving a voice to Black and LGBT+ employees.

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