What does Pride mean for LGBTQ+ recruitment?

Jun 21, 2022 | Diversity, Home Featured | 0 comments

After 50 years of Pride, early careers employers should be proud of their achievements in LGBTQ+ recruitment says Ashley Hever, Talent Acquisition Director, Europe at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

As we come to the end of Pride Month 2022 and the year that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first London Pride, I find myself, as with every other year, reflecting on what Pride means to me, both personally and professionally, and reviewing what I have done to show my support.

The Pride In London website says “The campaign for 2022 will commemorate the past 50 years and evolution as a movement, acknowledging these torch bearers who have come before us and their achievements.  As we celebrate and look forward to the next 50 years we’ll recognise the challenges still faced in our community nationally and globally. Participation in the parade gives the opportunity for expression of celebration, joy, and triumph but also the voice to rightly express the continued fight for those injustices and inequalities that exist amongst us.”

 

So, why am I writing this blog?

I am a gay, white man with a great job where I head up talent acquisition at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. What challenges would I face?

I was raised Roman Catholic, and unfortunately, like a lot of young people still today, I was bullied at school for playing the violin and participating in Irish Dancing. I grew up in the 80s when the headlines in the paper were ‘Britain Threatened by Gay Virus Plague’ and ‘Scrap EastEnders – Call Over Gay Kiss’. Because of this, and many other reasons that I still try to understand today, I hid being gay.

I hid my authentic self, for most of my life, including whilst I was at university. It took me until my 40th year to actually start to be my true, authentic self both personally and professionally.

One of the toughest experiences I have faced has been when representing Enterprise at events in my role in recruitment. Twice, I have been asked in front of an audience of peers “We’ve all been chatting and some of us think you are gay whilst others don’t.”

I didn’t have role models or a network or community that I could turn to for advice or support, I continued to hide who I was. This is why Pride is important today. I want, and need, to be a torch bearer for those that are like me in education or the workplace today.

 

Chairing Enterpride

One of the ways that I try to be a torch bearer is by chairing Enterprise’s LGBTQ+ network ‘Enterpride’, it took us weeks to come up with the name.

I love our network and am incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the past few years both in our local communities and for our employees.

Pre-pandemic we attended over 30 Pride events annually across the UK, from London to Kings Lynn to Cumbria. We’ve had members of our network speak at events and be shortlisted for awards, such as TargetJobs Rising Stars.

Enterprise has supported National Student Pride for a number of years. We partner with myGwork, participating in their WorkPride events and we also sponsor and have actively been involved in The Queer Student Awards. We’ve sponsored LGBTQ+ societies on campus, spoken at schools and colleges to students on being LGBTQ+ in the workplace.

I’m proud to say that we’ve seen representation at senior management increase internally and that we have been named a Stonewall Top 100 LGBT+ Gold Employer.

I’ve witnessed how things have changed over the years in LGBTQ+ recruitment, when I was a graduate, this just didn’t happen or the opportunities for employers were just not there.

 

Rainbow Washing

At this time of year, I read a lot about Rainbow Washing and I recently got a sales email from someone claiming organisations use Pride as an excuse to make profit.

I actually look at the many employers that support Pride, all year round, and challenge this. I’m extremely proud of the work that Enterprise, Clifford Chance, Ford, Lloyds and many others in early careers recruitment do from a diversity, equity, and inclusion perspective.

Read about Clifford Chance becoming the law firm of choice for LGBTQ+ students.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a long way to go, but this is why Pride Month is important, it gives people the voice to express their fight against inequality.

With employers like those I have mentioned and mentors in this space, such as Laura Yeates and Steve Keith, we have the torch bearers that students and employers can lean on and we can all celebrate the achievements we have made in LGBTQ+ recruitment.

Read more about how employers are recruiting and supporting LGBTQ+ students

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