Our purpose and ongoing agenda is to create a culture where everyone can come to work and be their authentic self, have equal opportunities to learn and progress and have their perspective represented in decision making across all levels of the company. It is important our LGBTQ+ colleagues, both present and future, know that they are a part of a safe and supportive workplace and that diversity is embedded in the core of the company.
Today we hear from Kirsti Chalmers, Senior Quantity Surveyor...
Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with the LGBTQ+ community and what Pride means to you?
Coming from a small village North of Inverness there was no real sense of LGBTQ+ community when I came out and I would go as far as to say there still isn’t really now, although there have been steps forward. 2018 saw Inverness hold its first major Pride event, however even this was strained due to protests along the march route. This has meant that what I would class as my community is scattered across the UK, with friends from home who have settled in different cities and places they feel comfortable. Pride to me is about having the courage to stand up in the face of this and be who you are without shame.
How do you celebrate Pride?
Over the years I have been to various Pride events all over the country, with Kylie headlining Brighton Pride probably my best to date. Generally, it is a time to get together with friends and soak up the amazing atmosphere generated by a sense of safety and belonging.
Who are some of your LGBTQ+ role models?
Anne Lister is my all-time hero; I even have 3 tattoos in tribute to her! She is often dubbed as the first modern lesbian, being that she was born in 1791. She was far ahead of her time, openly flouting the fact that she was gay as well as fancying herself as a bit of an entrepreneur / businesswoman and a landowner. Neither of these going down well in the early 1800s, so much so she received the not so affectionate nickname Gentleman Jack. I love that she didn’t care for what society thought she should do and did what was true to her.
In the construction industry, what issues do you think the LGBTQ+ community struggle with the most?
I completed my dissertation last year on Diversity and Inclusion in the Construction Industry, which highlighted the under representation of all minority groups. The most difficult group to gain information on was the LGBTQ+ community because these employees often don’t share this knowledge about themselves. In my time in construction, I personally know one openly gay male and one female, statistically speaking there must be more, but not having that sense of community and knowing you aren’t the only one makes it off putting to expose yourself in this way.
How has being a member of the LGBTQ+ community affected your professional life?
Unfortunately, I have encountered extremely negative comments about my community and instances of self-reservation in previous employments. Thankfully rather than having a negative affect I believe this pushed me on personally to overcome this and try to prove my worth in the workplace as an employee, regardless of my sexuality. I’m very lucky to now be part of an amazing team at Careys who have never caused me to second guess myself, where I have always felt able to freely be who I am.
How would you sum up Pride in three words?
Rejection of shame