Nick’s Chair of our Rainbow Network. He says if you’re proud of who you are, your career will flourish – and so will you.
I’ve been with the business for 22 years now. I left the armed forces and joined CCEP as a sales representative. After ten years in various commercial roles, I moved into supply chain. I’ve been a senior manager working with some of our largest customers for the last six years.
I knew I was gay throughout my career in the armed forces, but it was still illegal to be openly out and serve. I continued to hide my sexuality when I came to CCEP for fear of acceptance and career implications. It’s not as unusual as you might think: up to 41% of people who identify as LGBTQ+ go back ‘in the closet’ when they start a new job.
The thing is, coming out every time you start a new job is hard work. The longer you spend time adjusting your language – such as saying ‘my partner’ instead of ‘my boyfriend’ – the harder it can be to open up.
Thankfully, CCEP has an ‘everyone’s welcome’ philosophy, which allowed me to feel more comfortable in my skin. It’s about making sure everyone can bring their authentic self to work. I now identify as a gay man, and I want to support this agenda – which is why I joined the #JustBe network of volunteer Inclusion ambassadors.
I’m proud of what the #JustBe network has achieved in driving awareness across the organization – particularly during Pride month, which is an important time for me. It’s a month when I can reflect on the people who stood up and demanded equality – which has allowed me to be open today. The network has also raised money for The Albert Kennedy Trust, and Mermaids which are LGBTQ+ charities.
I admire those that dare to be open straight off, and I’ve grown in confidence over recent years. The more I’m around people comfortable in themselves, the more comfortable I become.
Having worked somewhere where I legally couldn’t be myself, I know that we’re all better off when we can be authentic. That’s why I’m passionate about creating an environment where everyone at CCEP can be themselves from day one – whether this is their first job or later in their career. That way, people can put their energy into their jobs, rather than burning unnecessary energy trying to hide who they are.
As well as my work with #JustBe, I’m also very proud to be Chair of our newly-created Rainbow Network. It’s the first in the UK and aims to build a safe space for CCEP’s LGBTQ+ community and its allies.
The Rainbow Network is a safe space for LGBTQ colleagues and allies to come together, share knowledge and work on activities that continue to make CCEP a great place to work. We’re already recognized on the global Stonewall Workplace Equality Index with a bronze award – and I’m looking forward to building on this success.