We hear from James Ramsay what it's like being an open member of the LGBT+ community at P&G and how he came to found their Gay, Ally, Bisexual, Lesbian & Transgender Employees Network (GABLE).
(James pictured right)
My P&G Career may have started 1.5 years ago – but my exposure (or as some would say infatuation) with P&G started 3 years earlier, at an On-Campus Networking Dinner. As a 1992 born socially conscious “Millennial” and member of the LGBT+ Community, it was refreshing to see, through pre-research and then interaction, a company who cared as much about their performance as they did their social footprint and voice.
However, joining the manufacturing plant in Ireland I realised this site was a little more passive than the rest of P&G in their approach. This surprised me as I have always seen manufacturing sites, which are typically classed as “masculine” or “heteronormative”, as the key area to not only play but disruptively win in regard to D&I. Therefore, less than 24 hours after starting I was knocking on HR’s door with one request – “Can I launch the plant’s GABLE (Gay, Ally, Bisexual, Lesbian & Transgender Employees) Network?”
As expected, this request was met with outpouring support. Support that when matched with my courageousness allowed me to drive the GABLE network forward without inhibition. A GABLE Network that, since launch, has sponsored pride events and held multiple drop in sessions, guest speakers and charity events that have helped us look, and challenge, ourselves.
When I look back at my 15 months running the GABLE network there are so many positives: my Luminary Award Nomination at the North America GABLE Conference; the GABLE Leaders London Summit and leading the GABLE Workshop at the UK/Ireland Diversity & Inclusion event. However, none of this compares to seeing and feeling the cultural change that has allowed current employees, and future employees, to confidently and freely express who they are.
I wholeheartedly believe that I wasn’t the spark for change but simply the spark that showcased to the site, by creating a dialect between employees, allies and members of the LGBT + community, that change had already happened. The GABLE Network is a flourishing safe space that has seen attendance to sessions grow and ever-change. I can confidently say that this all-inclusive peer education, which looks beyond sexual orientation and gender, has allowed us to create a culture where all employees, including those who aren’t even hired yet, can come to site and see by the language we use, the visuals we show and what we do that they are valued, included and able to unapologetically bring their full-selves to work.
In saying that, for everything I’ve given to the GABLE network I have gained in return - tenfold. I have been lucky enough to connect with likeminded P&G employees globally – forming both great friendships and mentorships. But most importantly I have been able to reapply both my courageous approach to GABLE and confidence that my differences are worth celebrating to my day job – allowing me to excel in both fields and assignments. I strongly believe that my performance at work is linked to this. Because I can see that I am being valued and included, not only for my technical ability but for who I am as a person.
With global statistics showing that 60% of LGBT+ employees go back into the closet when they start work or that 1/3 of LGBT+ employees remain in the closet throughout their career it’s clear that the GABLE Network is as important as ever. Being able to play a key role in not only improving the lives of our consumers, but also our own employees brings me tremendous job satisfaction.
This is because I believe that no one should ever have to choose between a career they love and the opportunity to live their live with integrity and authenticity – here at P&G I can do both.