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Insurance manager pushes to lead the most LGBT diverse company in UK

2015-11-28
An openly-gay British accounts manager is fighting to make sexuality within the UK corporate sector more culturally diverse by starting from the inside out. Simon-Rodgers Simon Rodgers divides his time as account manager at the UK’s second largest insurance provider Aviva, and as chair of the Aviva Pride, an internal company initative aimed at promoting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues within the company. And while Rodgers had never personally experienced discrimination in the corporate world, he became aware of friends working at other organisations who were struggling with their sexualities, and wanted to ensure colleagues at Aviva didn’t have the same experience. "I felt no discrimination. I just wondered if there are areas where that does happen, because nobody’s perfect, and I could see colleagues working for different companies where they weren’t having the same experience," Rodgers told Business Insider UK. Many of the initiatives introduced by Rodgers, which have helped with raising Aviva’s LGBT diversity rankings have been focused around the themes of raising awareness. Activities designed to promote Aviva Pride have included bake sales, a dress in purple day, and online auctions. Through partnering Aviva with the Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity for homeless LGBT youths, Rodgers also raised awareness of the broader challenges still facing LGBT people in the UK. “That created a buzz about what we were doing. It was absolutely fantastic to see that, and to see the support,” said Rodgers. Rodgers said wanted to improve gay rights in the workplace after being bullied for his sexuality during his school days. “When I’d been at school and I’d personally suffered discrimination and prejudice based on perceptions of my sexual orientation, rather than me actually knowing it myself and knowing that I was gay, I never found any support,” he said. “There were no community groups or networks, or anything like that where I was living. I had a rubbish time at school. I hated it, and I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to get out of education as soon as possible. Coming into work and actually being ‘out’ in the workplace was phenomenal." "So when I got the opportunity to make sure that other people in the workplace could have that same experience, and could come out in the workplace, I wanted to be a part of that.”