In celebration of Brighton Pride this weekend, we’re speaking to Natasha Ryan, a Tax Advisory Director from Birmingham about what it means to be an LGBT ally. In this candid interview, Natasha describes what being an LGBT ally means to her, and explains how those who do not identify as LGBT can still support LGBT voices.
What is your role?
I’m a Director in the Entrepreneurial Business and Private Client Tax Advisory team. It basically means I advise individuals, their businesses and their families.
How long have you been at Mazars?
I’ve been at Mazars for almost two years.
Why did you choose this career?
I never set out to be a tax adviser – it just sort of evolved. I studied a Maths and Accounting degree, joined a graduate scheme with an accountancy practice and never looked back!
Why did you join Mazars?
An ex-colleague persuaded me to join! He’s now retired but despite this I’m pleased I chose to join Mazars. My Mazars experience has been really positive and I think it’s genuinely a great firm with great people.
What do you think non-LGBT people can do to be allies to the LGBT community?
It’s important to remember that we all have many elements to our identities. For me, being an ally is about listening to and learning from someone else’s experiences. It’s about showing respect and acceptance despite our differences.
Why does Pride matter to you?
Because my family matters. As a 16 year old my nephew has a lot to think about, not only has he just completed his GCSEs but he’s just been diagnosed with social anxiety.
His anxiety is part of who he is, yet how he’s feeling is undoubtedly connected to exploring his identity. Being lesbian, gay, bi or trans can feel like extra pressure for young people particularly if they feel that those around them might react negatively to who they are. This worry can be very damaging and lead to a sense of isolation.
Although telling him I love and care about him goes a long way, I wanted to show my support. Taking part in this year’s Pride March with his mum and sister was a visible symbol of our unconditional love and support. So that’s why #PrideMatters to me.
What do you think prevents people from bringing their whole selves to work?
The reality is, for many, the subject of workplace identity can be a tricky balancing act. On one hand, you want to approach your role and your ultimate career goals in a way that will best help you achieve your ambitions. On the other hand, you don’t want to create an artificial or disingenuous work persona that’s so far removed from who you really are that you make yourself miserable.
At work I think we all, sometimes, can be afraid of being ourselves. Especially when there’s concerns that this could have an effect on our career.
The main objective is likely to be a balance; using your workplace instincts and your true sense of self to become an effective and genuine colleague.
Thanks to Natasha for speaking to us. Remember to check back next week for another #WeAreMazars interview.