Gerry Sheridan is the Market Intelligence Manager at eir and was recently nominated for LGBT Role Model of the Year as part of the Leadership Awards of Ireland’s prestigious LGBT Workplace Equality Index 2016. These awards highlight key figures from Irish businesses who are role models in driving change in Irish workplaces with regard to LGBTQ equality, diversity and inclusion. Earlier this year, the LGBT Helpline and eir announced the joint campaign “It’s Good To Talk”, which promotes mental health and raises awareness for the Helpline’s confidential support services for LGBTQ people and their families and friends. Gerry and eir’s LGBT network Spectrum have helped make this company a safe and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ employees. In the following open letter, Gerry discusses his journey coming to terms with his identity and promoting LGBTQ equality.
I grew up in a small isolated village in Co Kildare with little understanding of what being Gay meant, in fact I am not even sure the word Gay was even in my vocabulary then.
I moved to Dublin and joined eircom, which was a male dominated company and where being out and gay was unthinkable for me.
I remember back when I was struggling with my own sexuality and a woman pointed out a colleague saying… I think that fella is gay… gay being an offensive term.
15 years later, I was forced to come to terms with my sexuality in the workplace when a former gay colleague outed me in work. I felt forced into revealing something about myself in the workplace that I felt didn’t belong in the workplace.
In 2015, eir joined GLEN’s Diversity Champions and it inspired me not only because of my own experience in work which has on the whole been very positive but also I know people still in eir who are gay and hide it.
It can take a lot of negative energy to conceal your true self so I joined eir’s LGBT network to help bring about change and to help create an environment where people know it’s safe to come out and know they will be supported.
As Chair of eir’s LGBT network, I try to lead from the front in working with the company on HR policies and employee initiatives like the Colours of the Rainbow Art and Photography exhibition which we ran over pride week. We also encourage our straight allies to join in our events like Pride, Parents Support talk and “It’s Good to Talk” campaign with the National LGBT Helpline.
Inclusion for all is my vision, and as an out gay man in the workplace, my hope is that others both LGBT and straight will see that its ok to be yourself and to bring your whole self to work.