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Ready to be inspired? It’s time for more outstanding insights from the OUT50. We sat down with Mark Gay, Chief Digital Officer for BetEasy to explore diversity, inclusion and leading the way.
What does it mean to you be a part of the 2018 OUT50 group?
I am super-proud to be a part of the OUT50 Group in 2018. I reflected on why I am proud and I think for me, being recognised amongst this group is being recognised for who I am as a person as opposed to what I’ve achieved. I have always tried to be an authentic leader and so to be recognised for that is a very proud moment. I also think we have a responsibility to be role models for the next generation of our community.
How does BetEasy embrace diversity and inclusion?
Like all organisations we have diversity and inclusion policies in place but I think it’s far more than that. I think it’s about the actions of senior leadership in creating safe places for all different kinds of people to be themselves. Leading by example is key. I am on the Executive Team and I am proudly out and I don’t hide behind that at all. Creating visibility really brings policies around diversity to life.
Earlier in the year we marked Wear it Purple Day. What does it mean to you?
I think we have all had our own journeys in coming to terms with our sexuality and for some of us like myself it started a long time ago and for me, it’s pretty easy to forget how difficult the journey was.
Even though time has changed for some of our youth today, this journey is still extraordinarily difficult and in many cases more difficult.
For me, I think Wear it Purple comes back to that responsibility around providing role models – it’s upon us to be out there for the younger generation – while at the same time being quite visible and facing off the stereotype and homophobia that exists today in the workplace.
What advice would you give to your teenage self on achieving your dreams and goals?
I think I was really lucky. My parents were really accepting of me and who I was and I think the greatest lesson they taught me was that I could be whoever I wanted to be. I think from my perspective, I reiterate that message but I learned to like myself for who I was at a younger age. And I also made sure I surrounded myself with other like-minded people who liked themselves. Rather than searching for that affirmation that you do in your younger years, I look for it internally – in order to develop that sense of peace right from the start.
Why is LGBTI visibility so important across the business landscape?
I think there are a number of reasons why it’s really important. Firstly, I think we have a responsibility to create a safe place – purely from a human perspective. For all kinds of minorities to feel safe.
Secondly, I think it’s impossible for businesses to really understand their customers if they don’t have a cross-section of the organisation that represents their customer base.
Thirdly, I think there have been lots of studies done on getting the best out of people and if you allow people to be their full authentic self in the workplace – you will get the best of them.
Any advice for the next generation of leaders out there trying to navigate any hurdles or challenges?
The advice I would give is just really yourself. From an LGBTI perspective, proudly embrace who you are but understand it’s not the only thing that defines you. Always having an eye on the legacy you want to leave behind and make sure that everything you do every day in the workplace works towards that legacy. If you are clear about what you want to be remembered for, every action can fall into place in line with that.
Neil is Head of Editorial in The Agency (Deloitte’s Creative Studio) and is passionate about words and the power of storytelling. He loves working in the creative heartbeat of an organisation to bring ideas to life through dynamic, engaging and cutting-edge content. As a creative professional with global expertise in London, New York and Sydney, he connects and unleashes ideas across a diversity of formats. He adores writing, strategy and design.