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Happy Pride to all our amazing LGBTQ+ colleagues!

While 2021’s slate of Pride events may be at the mercy of COVID-19 restrictions, we want to take this opportunity to showcase some of the amazing LGBTQ+ talent we have here at Jigsaw24.

 

Liz Sunter

We’re always looking for ways to make our company more respectful and welcoming to everyone and we think our results speak for themselves – the more talented people feel comfortable at your company, the better you’ll do!

But there are always faces behind statistics, whether it’s employment rates or sales figures. We asked some of our staff to share their stories…

 
What has been your experience, when applying for jobs or starting at a new business?

Ade, Director of Marketing: I’ve been here a while, so it’s not something I think about too often. But I remember it being an anxious time when I started at Jigsaw24, and I know that 11 years later it would still be the case. I came here at a time when I was ‘out’ to some of my friends and family but hadn’t told everyone. At the time I didn’t think I had been keeping it quiet on purpose, but I do remember avoiding conversations about partners.

Hannah, Head of Sales Enablement: I was working at Jigsaw24 when I came out and had been working here for some time. I’d had boyfriends and love interests at work, so I imagine, for people not close to me, it was a surprise when I did come out. For the people I knew though, seemingly, they just didn’t care. I remember the day I came out at work. It was a big event for me. I’d worked myself up into quite a state on a night out and blurted it out.The reality was no one cared at all.

Tim, Sales Director: The only time I remember ever being made to feel uncomfortable was the first time I met with the CEO at [a previous employer]. Immediately after I left the room he asked my colleague instead. ‘Is Tim gay?’. And then, devastatingly, ‘is there room in our business and industry for gay people?’. I still took the job and went on to deliver an incredibly successful year as a part of the team.

Ed, DevOps and IS: When looking for new jobs it has always been in the back of my mind as to whether they would be accepting of me – whether I would feel comfortable being open and honest about who I am. Typically, I would do online research to see whether that company was active in the community, shared the values I do – occasionally relying on word of mouth, or the experiences of others that work there already. When I first started at Jigsaw24, I joined a department that stereotypically has a ‘macho’ culture, so was initially nervous. However, after less than a few weeks, I realised how welcoming and inclusive the team were, and I’ve not had any reservations since. ​​​​​​​

 

What experiences would you like to share about the wider business community and the technology industry that we're part of?

Ade: Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever had issues with the wider business community, but then I know that’s because my role isn’t as outward facing as other roles around the company. What I would say is that I am completely confident in talking about myself regardless of who I’m talking to – whether that’s new contacts at vendors or new members of the wider Jigsaw24 team who have come from other businesses. It comes from a feeling of standing on safe ground – I know I have the backing of Jigsaw24 to be myself and I am comfortable in putting myself out there as a result. In some ways, having that openness has helped me build relationships with the wider business community that I might not have done if I had kept my cards closer to my chest.

Hannah: Sadly, the IT industry is still a very much white, middle-aged, male-dominated sector, certainly in senior roles. I have and continue to be in situations where in the wider business community I would not be comfortable revealing this part of myself for fear of a negative response. All that said, I actually think the bigger challenge from my experience (as a female in this environment), is being a woman. But that’s a whole different question! I do think things are improving though with time, and the landscape is slowly changing for the better.

Tim: I take huge pride and satisfaction from the level of integration and diversity in Jigsaw24.  I think there are times when I struggle more with the level of acceptance because of what I have been used to. For a long time I was the only ‘out’ gay person in the businesses I worked for, so for me arriving at Jigsaw24 with such diversity and not only acceptance but genuine affection has made a huge difference. I’m old enough to remember Clause 28, which made it illegal to promote acceptance in the workplace. There has been some progress, I am pleased to say.

Ed: Unfortunately, there have been occasions, whether with suppliers or at conventions and expos where comments and statements made haven’t been great – such as still using ‘gay’ as a synonym for bad. And it is sometimes a balancing act between ‘can I be bothered to correct them?’ versus ‘will this affect my career, their perception of me and/or their business relationship with Jigsaw24?’ ​​​​​

 
As someone who identifies as LGBTQ+, there are common questions that people sometimes ask. Are there any of these that you would like to comment on?

Ade: “Who’s the man and who’s the woman?”. Last time I checked we were both men and yes, we both know how to build flatpack furniture and do the cleaning, if that’s what you’re implying.

Hannah: As I have gotten older and the LGBTQ+ community has become more prominent, the questions have changed. There are quite often assumptions that your ‘lifestyle’ is different because you’re gay. To be clear, for me certainly, it’s not a lifestyle choice. People can be quite offensive about that. I’ve also experienced a sense of disappointment when people realise that my relationship with my wife is very much conventional – yes, we have a house, we both go to work and come home in the evenings and watch TV, read a book, have dinner, sleep. All pretty normal. We just happen to be two females.

Tim: The question I am asked the most is how I think things have changed. There is no question there has been a huge amount of change, but I think people are often surprised by my reaction that underneath the loud news stories, the fact that we are still talking about it says it is still a problem in a lot of people’s minds.

 

What has your experience been like at Jigsaw24?

Ade: I can honestly say that since October 2009, when I realised nobody in my team could care less, there has not been a single time at Jigsaw24 that it has been awkward or I have played down any part of being gay. In some respects I’m more comfortable with who I am at work than I am outside of it. Work should be a safe space for everyone, regardless of who they are, what they look like or who they love. At work I’m able to do my job and build relationships with people based on how good (or not) I am at my role, completely independent from my personal attributes. And that’s just how it should be. It’s a real credit to the culture of the business that I feel that way.

Hannah: My experience at Jigsaw24 has been positive or - more accurately - it’s not been negative. I’d have no issue with calling someone out if I felt it needed to be done and I’m confident the company would support me. Likewise, if there is any characteristic that you believe is being insulted, it’s important it gets addressed and you should feel that you can raise that either with your line manager, HR or someone else you might look to for support.

Ed: Honestly, Jigsaw24 has always felt supportive and, in a good way, no-one cares if I’m straight or gay. I’ve not felt that I can’t be myself here, or that being myself would negatively impact my career at Jigsaw24. ​​​​​​​

Felice, Marcomms Coordinator: The moment I found out my manager was gay I was super happy because I’d never had someone at a managerial level who was gay and married and everything, so that was amazing. I’ve been very happy here and I don’t think any issues are going to come up.

 

Are there any other comments, experiences or advice that you would like to share? Whether that's for people who are looking to join Jigsaw24 – or just general advice.

Hannah: The great thing about people is that no two of us are the same. We’re all a product of our own experiences and/or lack of experiences in some cases/subjects. As such, there will always be things approached poorly or things that are misunderstood. Have humility, approach people positively and treat everybody with the respect they deserve.

Evie, Sales Support: My experience has been extremely positive as my friends and work colleagues, along with my family, have always loved me for me and even celebrated with me at various Pride parades. I always give thought to those less fortunate than me who face battles with parents and loved ones over their sexuality, and hope that they find peace because being out and proud is a wonderful feeling!

Thanks to all our team members for sharing their experiences! To find out more about what it’s like to work with us, visit Jigsaw24.com/careers.

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