Unpacking your invisible backpack
By Bill Bradshaw, HLB Global Diversity and Inclusion Leader
Have you ever packed for a 3-day holiday only to find that you cannot fit all that you need in one bag? You scramble to fit the max you can into your bag in “fear” of what you might forget. You arrive at your destination, settle in, and realise the daunting task of “unpacking.”
Each June, coined Pride Month, we celebrate, reflect, and honour the remarkable journey of our LGBTQ+ team members and community. We watch as the world dusts off its rainbow flags, explodes with glitter, and takes to the streets to march in unity, remembrance, and advocacy.
It’s a magical time for some, solemn for others, and reflective for most. For many of us, June is a reminder of our journey – with our invisible and overstuffed backpacks – that, at some point, we must unpack – several times throughout the year, day, and hour.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I can attest that I grew up playing a version of myself – one that sacrificed authenticity at the hands of “fear” and rejection to minimise the prejudice and humiliation that followed. Fast forward to today, 25 years later, I choose to show up, daily – authentically – and “unpack” my backpack. Exhausting at times, I must unpack which parts of my identity are truly me and which parts I have created to protect the former me.
Throughout my personal and professional journey, I am indebted and humbled to the countless allies who have strengthened my ability to “bring my whole self” to work. I implore you to look for opportunities to be an upstander in your workplaces – create spaces for your LGBTQ+ professionals to advance in the organisation, advocate for equitable policies and benefits, and cultivate authentic connections among team members.
I share my story as a message and a challenge - look beyond the rainbows, parades, and celebrations to the rich culture, accomplishments, and history of those trailblazers who have come before us and those who continue to pave the path forward. Be the best version of yourself every day – unapologetically - because who you are is non-negotiable.
Pride. Proud. True.