Nathaniel Crowley is a Counsel in our Hong Kong office. He shares his #MyPrideStory and tells us why it's important to be your whole authentic self at work.
What does it mean to be part of the LGBT+ community?
From a personal perspective, the LGBT+ community is a group of people who share certain attributes and are able to be just that little bit more relaxed in first encounters than one may otherwise be. In a business context, it means a ready-made network of people who will often do just that little bit more to champion and support you.
What does it mean to be your whole, authentic self at work?
Even for those of us who are confident in ourselves, sometimes we are put in situations where we don't feel comfortable sharing even basic things about our lives (for example, using gender neutral pronouns / referring to 'a friend' instead of a partner to avoid follow-up questions in respect of weekend plans). So to me it is simply the freedom and confidence not to have to do that and not to have to second guess what your colleagues think about you.
What does the Firm do to foster a stronger sense of belonging for all?
From the day of my interview in 2015 to the present day, I've encountered countless colleagues who self-evidently work tirelessly to make the Firm a truly inclusive and diverse place to work. As with any institution of White & Case's longevity, there will always be things we can do differently or better. But the evidence of that hard work is clear to see from the strength of our affinity groups globally; the vocal role models—particularly women partners—around the Firm who do so much to encourage peers; our engagement with clients in this area and much else besides.
How does your experience as an LGBT+ person positively impact your work and your career?
I have had the privilege of mentoring some fantastic aspiring LGBT+ lawyers in recent years and I always tell them the same thing; that feeling of being different that you may have viewed as a disadvantage can be converted into a massive advantage.
The community is a great place to network; often with colleagues and clients of a seniority that you may not typically have the opportunity to meet. I personally have been given amazing opportunities by the Firm to develop our profile as a positive environment for LGBT+ staff from building our Spectrum Network in London to working with colleagues to co-host events (and Pride Parade floats!) with key clients such as BNP Paribas. This has not only brought me into touch with colleagues around the world but also led to direct business opportunities with clients.
Why is being part of the Spectrum Network important to you?
Part network; part support group; part group of like-minded people—it has given me enormous amounts of job satisfaction during my six years at the Firm.
What's your advice for the next generation of LGBT+ lawyers?
Be open and confident about who you are. People will respect you the more for it and any opportunity you might lose out on as a result will be gifted back ten-fold by opportunities gained.
How have you built your LGBT+ network since moving to Hong Kong?
Building a network in a pandemic has been an interesting challenge but Hong Kong has been incredibly rewarding in such regard. I was really touched that in my first months here, a key client of our team introduced me to her brother, through whom I met a great number of people in the community.
My time on secondment at BNP Paribas also afforded me opportunities (even if just over Zoom cocktails!) to meet their very active network and by extension representatives of affinity groups such as HK GALA (Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Attorneys Network). Further, through the kind introductions of the Hong Kong partners and team, I've not only met clients who identify as LGBT+ but have had the opportunity to co-host a (virtual) event with a major global bank—a panel on marriage equality in Asia-Pacific, which was so well supported by many colleagues in the region.
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