Posted: 19 Nov. 2020 05 min. read

Courage, passion and igniting change

Gai Bolderrow is the Regional Operations Manager for State Intelligence within the Crime and Intelligence Command at Queensland Police Service (QPS). As one of our Outstanding 50 LGBTI+ Leaders of 2020 Gai shares her journey as an LGBTI+ leader in the QPS and how she’s helping to foster an inclusive and psychologically safe work environment where everyone can bring their whole self to work.

LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: Celebrating LGBTI+ days of significance, wearing a rainbow lanyard or pin and adding pronouns to your signature block, can all show your support towards the LGBTI+ community. It’s important to be active, challenge inappropriate language or micro-aggressions and use these interactions as teaching moments. Educate yourself about all diverse groups, as we share common ground. 

Advice:
Early on in my career I was told, “be yourself, everyone else is taken”. This was difficult to do, but over the years I’ve learned the importance of being authentic, vulnerable and courageous.  As a manager, you need to be able to show humanity to connect with people.  My leadership journey has been one of self-discovery, lifelong learning and sharing my knowledge with others. 

On inclusive leadership:
Being an inclusive leader is vitally important to me, as I have seen the consequences of exclusion to careers and personal lives. We need to open our hearts and minds to difference and understand not everyone shares the majority experience of culture, class, race, ability, gender or sexuality.

Our workplaces should be welcoming, inclusive and psychologically safe environments. We can only achieve this when we recognise and appreciate the experiences of diverse people.

Can you share a story with us that has made the most impact on you during your LGBTI+ journey?
The event that had the most impact on me during my LGBTI+ journey was the marriage equality debate. I was surprised by this event as I have been out for years and very comfortable in my own skin. There was a lot of negativity around the campaign and it affected a lot of LGBTI+ people. The idea that people, who already had the right to marry, would decide if I was entitled to the same right, left me feeling “less than” and “othered”.  It felt threatening to me and I was concerned for other LGBTI+ people, especially young people. This experience inspired me to continue my LGBTI+ work with the Queensland Police Service and to highlight the impact that exclusion can have on any diverse group.

Not everyone has the confidence or support (whether that be from family or colleagues) to be themselves at work – what advice would you give to them?
Everyone’s journey is their own. If you do not feel comfortable being yourself at work, look for support from other places, outside of work and home. There are great support groups you can get involved in, including LGBTI+ sports and community groups. Discover what is important to you and where you feel most accepted for who you are.

Women are often harder on themselves than anyone else.  An important lesson for me has been finding my own way to lead. I’m inspired by the words of Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” This has been my goal throughout my career. 

Words to describe me:
Dedicated, passionate, determined.

Gai is one of our Outstanding 50 LGBTI+ Leaders of 2020 – a list that recognises and celebrates the many LGBTI+ role models in business and across our community. For more on our inspirational LGBTI+ leaders, visit our Outstanding 50 webpage.

More about the author

Jade Fosberry

Jade Fosberry

Communications Manager, ICS, MCBD

Jade Fosberry leads communications for Inclusion, Diversity and Wellbeing, within Deloitte’s Corporate Affairs and Communications team. Jade is passionate about storytelling and believes in the power of a compelling story to effect real change.