To celebrate global Pride month, some of our LGBT+ lawyers, business services colleagues and allies are sharing their own #MyPrideStory. Elliott Pentland is part of our Recruiting team, based in London
“There will be somebody watching who feels inspired and sees themselves in you”
What does it mean to be part of the LGBT+ community?
It means different things to different people. You do not choose to be LGBT+ but you can choose how you interact with the wider community. There is no rule book covering how to act or guidelines outlining how involved you should be, but regardless of this, it's always there should you need or want it. For me personally, it's where I feel safe and find people like me.
What does it mean to be your whole, authentic self at work?
In all honesty, it makes everything about work easier. From the moment I walk in the door on Monday to the moment I leave on Friday, I don't have to work on hiding who I am or applying any filters. Yes, I still need to remain professional even during the run-up to Eurovision, but at least I can talk about it!
I cannot imagine a workplace where I wouldn't be able to talk about my husband-to-be, my weekend at Pride, go for drinks in Soho with the team, or just talk openly to someone if something has happened. I do feel the weight of being LGBT+ in the outside world a little too much (it happens sometimes).
What does the Firm do to foster a stronger sense of belonging for all?
I already knew about the great work being done at White & Case before I joined as they were a client when I worked at Stonewall. As would be expected, the Firm's Spectrum LGBT+ network promotes messages of inclusion not only across the London office but also across the globe. They have the support mechanisms in place internally should they be required and they also encourage people to be visible.
How does your experiences as an LGBT+ person positively impact your work and your career?
I was really lucky to have worked at Stonewall for nearly two years and this opened my eyes, even as a member of the LGBT+ community. This, combined with my experience since, has pushed me to be bold, speak up, be more of an active ally, push myself out of my comfort zone and educate others.
All this combined has helped me perform my own role better. It is even more important I assist with hiring future talent into the Firm. How are we going to attract people? How are we going to show and tell them that this is an inclusive and accepting place to work
Why is being part of Spectrum important to you?
It's a family at work—well, that's how I see it anyway. Regardless of how outgoing you are or what your role is in the organisation, it's a support network, it's a friendly face, someone who understands, a platform to drive change and it's also really fun!
What's your advice for the next generation of LGBT+ professionals?
Don't be complacent! Whilst we've come a long way, there is still a long way to go! I still have those voices in my head questioning what I should talk about at work and what's 'too gay'. My partner still keeps his relationship gender-neutral in a lot of work conversations (he does not work for White & Case).
Continue to support those around you regardless of how big or small. Talk to people; education is the key. If you are lucky enough to have a position of influence, use that influence and be bold. There will be somebody watching who feels inspired and sees themselves in you.
How are you planning on celebrating Pride virtually this year?
It's going to be an odd one this year, not being able to celebrate Pride in the usual way with friends and family. As with any year, the celebration also comes with an amount of reflection, remembering those that have gone before us to get us to where we are, but also remembering those who are still fighting for equality and acceptance.
As well as attending the Spectrum virtual drag bingo event, my partner and I will probably decorate the flat with any rainbow we can find, raid the Pride collection on ASOS and dance away to Chromatica and The Immaculate Collection. We also have some LGBT+ books on the reading list as well a long list of Netflix recommendations.
Keen to find out more about a career at White & Case? View their profile here.