Although no gay jokes were directed at Tom during school, he felt that the general atmosphere – one not unfamiliar to LGBTQ+ teens – made him reluctant to come out. When he did, it was first to a group of very close friends, and encouraged by their supportive response, he told his family. Now he’s out to everyone, and unashamedly so.
The group had been close-knit through primary and secondary school, but it wasn’t until after secondary school – when many of them had gone onto sixth form – that Tom told them. He had joined an apprenticeship at Thomas Cook at 17 and was quickly learning to navigate work as a young professional.
“A lot of people say they fell into recruitment – I was the opposite; I chose it,” says Tom, looking back on the scheme. “It gave me an insight into the fundamentals of recruitment, and I realised I loved talking to people and helping them find their dream roles. It’s incredibly satisfying when they say yes to the offer and are super pleased.”
Unfortunately, in 2019, Thomas Cook went into liquidation, and Tom found himself job hunting. He had secured a role at an agency recruitment firm in no time, although the experience was very different. “I had bought into the agency’s vision, but when I arrived, it was slightly different to what I had expected.” He describes the work ethos as “dog eat dog” and that whilst Tom eventually got comfortable in the role, he knew it wasn’t the right fit for him.
“I wanted to demonstrate what I could bring”
An opportunity came up at Expedia Group (EG), and he took it, starting in a corporate hiring role before transitioning two years ago to technical recruitment. He was passionate about the work he was doing and, as a young professional, wanted to establish himself. “I wanted to demonstrate what I could bring and embed myself in the team. I threw myself in at the deep end to learn as much as possible and get involved as much as possible.”
At Expedia Group, an opportunity came up that enabled Tom to do this. When a manager of his was promoted, suddenly, an opening appeared at the company’s Inclusion Business Group (IBG) for talent acquisition. “I was on this path to establish myself within the talent acquisition team and EG globally. One thing I’ve learnt from working with Pride – Expedia Group’s LGBTQ+ IBG – is that we are super focused on making a very inclusive internal environment.” This includes ensuring that employees – current and new alike – feel welcomed, and are proud to be a part of a company that supports and promotes LGBTQ+ talent.
“It’s super important … to find an inclusive environment”
“My focus this year is to ensure we can share the amazing work we’re doing internally, externally.” It’s a natural fit for Tom’s job – in his role, he talks to countless external candidates and can use this opportunity to engage with them and discuss LGBTQ+ inclusion at the business. “It’s super important, not only to me but to everyone, to find an inclusive environment for them to work in.”
A large part of the role involves working in partnership with the Pride board to understand how we can best showcase the inclusive culture we have and are continuing to create for the LGBTQ+ community externally with the support of the Global Talent Acquisitions team. Tom’s goal is to make Expedia Group the go-to employer for LGBTQ+ talent and to create a welcoming environment where they can thrive once they join.
It’s not an unsurprising goal. “Any recruiter or talent acquisition department strives to hire the best people to do their best work. People can only do their best work when they’re fully immersed within the organisation. It’s about continuing to grow and creating this internal environment where people feel welcomed. It’s crucial.”
“It’s just a really warm and happy place to be in”
Internal networks play a vital part in that, in Tom’s opinion. “I often find myself just reading through the internal Pride Slack channel here in London to see what people are discussing. It’s just a really warm and happy place to be in. There’s so much positivity and love within that Slack channel.”
This is what builds those inclusive workplaces Tom was talking about. “Having an environment where people can feel safe and comfortable, welcomed and represented at all levels, makes new joiners feel accepted within the business.” It’s about allowing people to thrive without worrying about how they identify and be their authentic selves. For Tom, that work goes on every day at Expedia Group to ensure the company is helping staff feel accepted in that way and helping them to feel as welcome as possible.