To kick off Pride Month, Health & Protection speaks to Chris Bailey-Munt, B2B content and social media manager for intermediary marketing at Aviva, about considering whether he should refer to his “partner” rather than his husband, the importance of understanding why Pride matters and how everyone in the sector can be encouraged to bring their whole selves to work.
What have been your own experiences with regard to attitudes towards LGBT communities in the sector?
When I first joined the sector 14 years ago, I was nervous about how my sexuality would be taken and if it would be a barrier to building a successful career. I came from the hair and beauty industry, so I had created an idea for how I should behave within financial services – how I should look and whether I should talk about my husband – instead defaulting to the more ambiguous “partner”.
I found a way to overcome my own bias by getting involved with Aviva Pride, which has been running for 15 years, meeting new people and being a pivotal part of Aviva’s LGBTQ+ community.
One of the reasons I became co-chair for the Pride community is to show every single person in and out of the sector that you can be your authentic self. You can build a successful career. That there is a safe space. That you can be you.
It’s also important to me that I work with our other communities to show that we’re not just LGBTQ+ – we’re all ethnic backgrounds, ages, disabilities and genders.
How have attitudes evolved in the sector?
There is much more representation for the LGBTQ+ community in the sector, but it needs to go beyond a logo change during Pride month and a handful of pictures.
In my role, I’m fortunate that I can be an ambassador for LGBTQ+ advisers and clients. I create content that talks to advisers about the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. And there’s demand for it.
In doing so, I hope to encourage LGBTQ+ advisers to feel empowered to be their authentic selves and help the LGBTQ+ community realise that there are advisers that understand and can help them.
What is the sector doing well and where does it need to up its game?
We’re seeing a marked shift in prioritising improving experiences for the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s important we also understand why we’re doing it.
It’s not about ticking boxes. It’s establishing a roadmap and having commitment from everyone in the business – from the highest level to the lowest and everyone in between.
The LGBTQ+ community typically doesn’t see financial services providers reflecting them or their needs, so there’s a huge opportunity. To win, it’s important to demonstrate how you’re supporting the LGBTQ+ community every single day.
Do you feel encouraged and enabled to bring your whole self to work?
Without a doubt. Aviva has empowered me to bring my whole self to work and I encourage everyone to do the same. If you can’t – I will listen and I will help.
We can all help others feel better about bringing their whole selves to work: add pronouns to emails, state pronouns during introductions, clothing has no gender so wear what you want, wear make-up and paint your nails. Be an ally.
By doing these things you’re helping to break stereotypes, encourage fewer people to whisper and stare and making it ok for someone else to be their true self at work.