Greensill’s global campus boasts more than 1,000 specialists from many walks of life. At Greensill, the unique perspectives and experiences of our talented team help to create an inclusive environment that assists us on our mission to make finance fairer.
This year, Greensill joined The Juneteenth Pledge, a global effort to rally the private sector to ensure that Juneteenth becomes a paid holiday in the United States. June 19, also known as Juneteenth, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the US.
In addition, June is also Pride Month, which gave members of the Greensill team the opportunity to share their stories of inclusion and acceptance for our LGBTQ+ colleagues, friends and family. Below are a selection of the personal stories that were shared to celebrate the inclusiveness of Greensill’s people.
James Bluck – Analyst
So, I’ve been lucky – extremely lucky! As a young, gay, Londoner, I’ve never really experienced direct inequality for my sexual orientation.
I am forever indebted to those who challenged and continue to challenge inequalities in our society. In London, there are very few places I feel uncomfortable walking hand in hand with a partner. Nevertheless, many still fear my community or create hostile environments for those who identify as LGBT. I am comforted that thankfully, the world is progressing in the right direction (albeit slowly in some parts). I have also grown to understand that not everyone will like me, no matter how hard I try to convince them otherwise!
Throughout my life, I have tried to use my confidence, and to an extent my naivety, to encourage greater social cohesion where I live. At university, I organised the first pride parade in St Andrews – an event that has become an annual tradition bridging ‘town and gown’ communities in the East Neuk of Fife.
Leaving academia and starting my career, I was incredibly apprehensive about how the professional world would receive me. Like many LGBT people, I was faced with questions about how I wanted to be perceived at work, especially in finance. Should I be myself overtly? Should I lie about who I am? Should I address homophobia in the office or correct people on misconceptions? I thought, again probably naively, to just be as open as possible. LGBT people should feel protected by the equality laws at work that exist in the UK, and other countries (including the USA now too!).
At Greensill, not a single day has gone by where I haven’t been my authentic self. I was concerned the firm was not going to celebrate Pride Month, but then this initiative came along; the intimacy and openness of colleagues’ stories reflect the family ethos alive within the company, one that I am very proud to have joined. Rather than make a comment like “there’s still so much to do” I think it only right to pause and first congratulate Lex, senior leadership and the People Services team for promoting an environment where staff can be their authentic self, judged on their merit and contribution.
There is lots we can do in all aspects of our life to protect, celebrate and integrate others. Being gay does not exempt me from educating myself about the plights suffered by many others in the LGBT community and other minority groups so I continue to learn and challenge myself on my own preconceptions. At the end of the day, when I meet someone new I ask myself 3 questions:
1) Are they bad people?
2) Do they promote hate in our society?
3) Do they stop me living my life how I want to?
… Thankfully, I rarely have to answer in the affirmative.
My story may not be laden with drama and heartache, but perhaps that’s a good thing in 2020.
Andrew Kuyk — Managing Director/Chief Credit Officer
I have never really been one that wants to be in the limelight or make a fuss about who I am. However thinking about Pride Month, I thought it might be good to tell my story growing up as a gay person in apartheid South Africa and then moving to the UK and embarking on a career in Banking in the late 90’s. If I am honest, neither places were particularly open minded or hospitable to anyone who was different from what was then considered “normal”.
When I think of where the world is now on the journey of LGBT rights and full equality and I compare it to the various points in my life, it really is like a different world. Unfortunately, we cannot be complacent. Rights that have been hard fought for can be rolled back and old and bad behaviours can work their way back into how society operates (including in the workplace).
When I was at school, being any kind of “other” was met with name calling, bullying, intimidation and various other forms of negative reaction. For this reason, I was never really honest about who I am and landed up spending more time and energy trying to fit in and be “normal” rather than trying to achieve the normal goals that someone of my age would be focused on.
In the 80s, the Apartheid Regime ruled the country with brutal force on all fronts, it was all about keeping people under control and separating people of different colours. Being gay was another of the many things that was frowned upon and heavily legislated against. Toxic masculinity was the order of the day and there certainly was not any room for being anything other than a traditional red blooded man!
I was hoping that moving to London in 1996 would be a revolution for me in terms of living an open and authentic life. It certainly was in my personal life, but working in a number of Banks at this time, there was always a presumption of heterosexuality and the obligatory girlfriend waiting at home. I did meet my now husband during this time and we have now been together for over 22 years. We had our civil partnership in 2006 and then changed it to marriage when the law finally changed.
I think that it is very important that we bring our whole selves to work. The most successful companies are the ones that represent the communities that they serve, and Greensill is a company that operates on all continents and we serve all communities. We are allso a company that encourages and celebrates diversity and inclusion. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help anyone working here to know that it is okay for you to be yourself and to be that person at work.
As Pride Month comes to an end, let us celebrate how far we have come as society and let us also make sure that everyone feels welcome in our firm no matter what their race, gender, background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or anything else for that matter. I certainly feel welcome here and so should all of you.
Tom Coenen, Director
Among the many reasons I feel fortunate to be part of the Greensill family is knowing that our company is truly a place that not only welcomes people for who they are, but also accepts them as they are in the workplace.
Being gay is something that I wouldn’t change for anything. It has given me the opportunity to do the hard work to assess what matters in life, and to define my own path based on those understandings. This of course is the happy culmination of years of sorting through my own personal challenges. And aside from that process, I recognize the outcome is as much a function of having the good fortune to live in a time and place and segment of society in which I am able to live openly as a gay person without fear of rejection (not to mention personal safety / livelihood, etc.).
These advances have certainly not been shared equally, and the struggle continues. Until just a few weeks ago, there were no federal protections in the U.S. from being fired from your job for the sole reason of being gay or transgender. Many grow up in countries, segments of society or families that are less accepting. And despite the progress that’s been made over the last 50 years in the advancement of gay rights, it seems that we may only be at the beginning of the fight for acceptance of gender diversity. These issues are part and parcel of the ongoing struggle for racial and gender equality.
In the workplace, championing diversity creates space for a variety of viewpoints and approaches, which is key to innovating and making progress as a company. So as I reflect on my second Pride month at Greensill, I am thankful (and proud!) to work with a team that celebrates diversity and values it for the right reasons. And as society continues to advance the cause for diversity in fits and starts, we can each continue doing our part by making people feel welcome in the workplace as themselves and feel encouraged to share their viewpoints and ideas as active participants in the growth of our company.
Stephanie Jones — Business Manager, Risk
I wanted to share the story of friend’s wedding and how I was able to be a part of it…
I was asked to be the Makeup Artist for my friend Staci’s wedding.
Staci and Charlene decided to fast forward their wedding plans after Staci had a health scare during the birth of their youngest daughter, Edi-Lane. They got married a couple of months after Edi was born, in August 2017 and it happened to fall on Chester Pride Parade too.
It was lovely to be a part of their special day and also be a guest.