Kerri Mitchell did her first ever Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras march on Saturday 5th of march 2016- perhaps surprisingly - with the people she works with.
Inclusion and respect
Kerri, the Shared Services Operations Manager in the People and Culture team at IAG - the parent company for NRMA Insurance - has been working with a team since last year to build a more inclusive and respective culture at work for LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer) colleagues and their allies.
"We kicked off our Pride at IAG group in September last year so LGBTIQ employees could connect.
We also organised some events which were about raising awareness and education, for example we had PFLAG representatives, a voluntary, not for profit organisation for parents and friends of lesbians and gays come and talk to staff about what they do and how they support the community.
We also had a member of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras come along and talk about what we could do as a company to support the event."
Feeling valued at work
Kerrie is passionate that colleagues should feel they can be their authentic self at work.
"I was hearing personal stories where staff had had experiences where they had to shield and hide, for example not feeling able to put their relationship pictures on their desk at work.
I want everyone to feel valued and respected at work, so everything we are doing is about starting to build awareness and starting the conversation."
Having a voice
"I think we've really had momentum over the last 12 months, where a minority group at work has been allowed to have a voice.
And we have to understand that everyone has different opinions and beliefs, but it's about coming together and celebrating each other for the differences we have.
And we also acknowledge that diversity and inclusion is an essential element of IAG’s success. It’s good for our people, good for our customers and good for business.
As a business, in order to achieve our vision and purpose we aim to attract and retain the best people, with a broad range of unique skills, experiences and perspectives.
Creating an inclusive and flexible workplace that embraces and unlocks the diversity each of our people brings to IAG will enable us to best serve our customers and community."
Marching with pride
For Kerri, her first time Mardi Gras march was a very big deal.
"I'd never marched before and I was really, really excited. We'd been doing rehearsals for the last four weeks.
We marched with the Pride and Diversity float and the theme of the float was around bringing your whole self to work.
There was eight of us all together. We had a bit of a corporate look - black shorts and white tie and glowing bow tie and a blue mask for the dance routine.
It was fantastic!"