James Morrison Intern

What Pride means to me

13 Jul 2022

At Ricardo, we celebrate difference and strive for a working environment where we can all feel we belong and can fulfil our potential. During the summer our teams will be educating, celebrating and donating with #Pride. We will also share some interviews with colleagues, like this one with James Morrison, Engineering Intern @ Ricardo, based in the UK.

How do you identify with respect to the LGBTQ+ community?

I’m a gay man and use he/him pronouns. The LGBTQ+ community is incredibly diverse and I’m both white and cisgender (same gender as birth sex), so my experiences and viewpoint will not be universal across the community.

What does ‘Pride’ mean to you?

Pride is so important to me. Pride month is both a celebration and a protest. It celebrates the diversity in the community and is an opportunity to be visible. In my experience, my sexuality is something that can be hidden away when it’s convenient and I’m able to pass as heterosexual when people first meet me. Pride challenges me to be my authentic self and gives me the confidence to do so with the support of the rest of the community.

At its root, Pride is a force for change. Pride celebrations are important, but we also need to use the opportunity to challenge the status quo. There are so many issues the LGBTQ+ community face, both in the UK and internationally. While the spotlight is on the community during Pride month, we need to make our voices be heard and demand change.

Is there anything that Ricardo does that makes you feel accepted and included in the workplace?

I’ve received some great support and encouragement from my managers, and there seems to be a genuine desire to be inclusive at work. The biggest factor for me is having a friendly group of colleagues. It sounds so basic but having nice people to work with and a positive work culture is fundamental to feeling comfortable at work.

Ricardo also has a number of groups and structures in place to promote diversity and inclusion, which make a huge difference and facilitate change in the company. The Respect Teams channel, DEI council and DEI groups are a few that come to mind. 

Have there been any instances where you’ve felt uncomfortable at work?

The times that have felt uncomfortable are few and far between – they’re nothing major either! Starting at a new job was always going to be the most stressful. I’ve been the target of homophobia before, so now I’ve found it difficult to immediately trust people and I can no longer assume everyone will be accept me straight away. As I got to know everyone, I felt like I could be myself more at work. It has definitely been helped by being put in contact with other members of the LGBTQ+ community within Ricardo as well.

In terms of day-to-day instances, I’ve had colleagues ask me whether I’ve got a girlfriend. I’m then in the awkward position where I have to either correct them (potentially making them feel uncomfortable) or just be evasive and skirt around the fact that I’m dating a guy. I also sometimes feel a little bit weird talking about DEI in the office and would much rather take DEI calls when working from home. When I’m in my own space, I’m in control who overhears me, so I feel safer opening up about issues that matter to me.

What can we do as an organisation to support LGBTQ+ communities better?

I think we need to start by gathering and publishing diversity data. By knowing where we stand, we can better understand where we need to improve. People identifying as LGBTQ+ is on the rise, especially in younger generations. We need to have a plan to ensure the diversity in Ricardo attracts prospective employees rather than the lack of diversity being a factor that pushes employees away. This doesn’t need to be exclusive to the LGBTQ+ community either, it can include all marginalised groups as well.

Within Ricardo, where do you turn to if you need support?

I’ve got a great set of allies in my team and a superb team leader who I would feel comfortable talking to about most issues. Also, the HR team in Rail are all friendly and always have time for me. Finally, the people in the Ricardo Energy and Environment LGBT+ & Allies network are all really supportive and I know I could rely on them if I needed to. Having allies is amazing - and I don’t want to diminish how vital they are to people like me - but there is no substitute for having someone who understands exactly what you’re going through because they’ve been through it themselves.