Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, recently announced the appointment of Cicero AMO Executive Chairman, Iain Anderson, as the UK government’s new LGBT Business Champion.
Here, Iain tells Dare! about his new role and how he aims to drive forward workplace equality for LGBT people and focus on reducing workplace discrimination.
Congratulations on your appointment as the UK’s government’s new LGBT Business Champion. Tell us about the role and what it will involve.
Thank you. It is really exciting. This new role for the UK Government will see me collaborating with business to support LGBT people at work, whilst developing and sharing solutions to end workplace discrimination.
Alongside the recently appointed Special Envoy for LGBT rights, Lord Herbert, I want to ensure businesses are doing all they can to help showcase the UK as an inclusive place to live and work ahead of the UK’s first Global LGBT Conference, Safe To Be Me, which is taking place in June 2022.
What are your top priorities?
I am passionate about securing equality in the workplace and I’m delighted to take on this new role.
It is important that both large and small businesses can unleash the potential of all their LGBT employees and customers. So first up, I want to create a buddying scheme for large business to support small business. I also want to look at evidence-based solutions that work to drive LGBT equality.
What do you think your biggest challenges are going to be?
The biggest challenge is there is a lot to do to make more businesses welcome LGBT people at work. While a lot has been done – not every business has this focus. More and more investors are asking what companies are doing about inclusion and I want to harness that focus to drive positive change.
One CIPD report suggested 40% of LGB employees had experienced conflict at work, rising to 55% of trans employees. What do businesses have to gain from inclusivity?
There is a huge amount of potential that is being wasted. We need to create the right conditions across the workplace to allow everyone to thrive. So, we need to look at workplace policies and to allow businesses that have embraced inclusivity to showcase their work so everyone can learn great practice.
What will your experience as Executive Chairman of Cicero/AMO bring to the role?
At Cicero/AMO we have aimed to be a market leader on diversity. We were one of the first businesses to sign a commitment on women’s rights at work, to be one of the first communications businesses to put in place policies to support LGBT people, to support on mental health issues and we were proud to win the Public Relations and Communications Association’s Diversity Champions award. We did all that before we joined Havas in early 2020. I want to bring that experience to support better policies across the workplace.
What advice would you give to LGBT people at the start of their careers?
I want people to be themselves at work. I wasn’t ‘out’ at work for the early part of my career, and it is a big regret. You are worried about what people might think.
Since I came out at work my business is four times bigger. Being out at work has unleashed potential.