Blog – Bring your best self to work!
Colin Briggs, Associate Director based in our Leeds office, reflects on his journey that has led to signing Bowman Riley up to the RIBA Inclusion Charter.
I once overheard someone say “thank goodness Colin is leaving. Now I can say something is ‘gay’ without feeling guilty”. That was several years ago in a former job but the sentiment has stuck with me. I never wanted to put my head above, the parapet and celebrate my sexuality. I’m just me, very normal and perfectly content with who I am. Why rock the boat?
However, after that comment, I always separated elements of my personal life from my work. Whilst openly gay to my friends, family and fellow students, a strange sense of vulnerability hit me when I entered the professional world. Other bad experiences with past employers lead me to shy away from walking into a room and saying “Hi, I’m Colin and I’m a (gay) architect”. I didn’t see why it mattered… until now.
Even as I’m writing this, I can’t shake the worry and fear of exposing such a personal vulnerability. Last time I wrote a blog I got some pretty nasty comments about wearing brown shoes to a black-tie event, so goodness knows how this subject will divide!
Diversity and inclusion are important. It’s more than that actually, it’s essential to bring your best self to work. Whether it’s social mobility, gender, race, religion, (dis)ability or sexuality. Without the ability to fully embrace yourself, your identity in your workplace, you will always be leaving unfulfilled potential at home. A part of you that is limiting your enjoyment, your experiences and your potential.
It’s probably only with the launch of the RIBA Inclusion Charter that I’ve felt a sense of responsibility to champion this. Not for me, but for others who need to feel a sense of inclusion. Belonging. For those who, like me, just sat back quietly.
Our inclusion journey is just starting at Bowman Riley. We have signed the RIBA Inclusion Charter, which is a statement of commitment to record, improve and support inclusion within our workplace and industry.
We have some way to go, like many in the industry, but I’m excited to see the changes we can implement and celebrate our journey to a more varied and vibrant future.