by Aimee Treasure
2nd March 2016
As we see February draw to a close, we’ve looked back at what have been two significant events in the diversity calendar; LGBT+ History month here in the UK and over in the US, African American History month. Both of these events have celebrated the societal advancements for both communities and also paid tribute to previous generations who have struggled with adversity, endured hardship, and challenged others to ensure equal opportunity is part of our society. Although we are a long way from holistic inclusion, if it wasn’t for those individuals who fought for their inclusion in society, then we would still be much further from where we are today.
Alongside LGBT+ History month, this month OUTstanding celebrated three years of extraordinary LGBT+ role modelling in business. We are so inspired by of all of the OUTstanding role models and what they have achieved by standing up and being visible. The importance of allowing people to be themselves is hugely powerful and fundamentally important for our companies, our economy, our society and more importantly, for the individuals themselves.
The importance of role models, for every community, cannot be underestimated. The report Race at Work 2015* highlights that what black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees are short of are career role models- someone they aspire towards being like in their working life. The research identified the essential importance of role models to black British employees but the struggle to find them within their workplaces. This is true for many other groups also.
We have been so fortunate to see many diverse individuals, from many different backgrounds, rise to the top positions of business and society in recent. Barak Obama is the first African American President and Oprah Winfrey became the first black, female billionaire. Tim Cook, of Apple Inc, and Christopher Bailey, of Burberry, have done something very similar for the LGBT+ community. All the above have inspired current and future generations that you can succeed in achieving your goals, despite being diverse. But you don’t have to be a US President or the CEO of a company to be a role model. In your own job, organisation and every day life, by championing your authentic self and the authenticity of others around you, you are paving the way forward for your colleagues, future employees and society as a whole.
Reflecting back over this month, and the celebration of two integral diversity strands, has powerfully strengthened the principle that when we stand-up together, champion inclusion and celebrate the brilliant efforts of people, past and present, we can be counted and we will make a difference.
by Aimee Treasure
15th November 2015
Suki Sandhu, Founder and CEO of Audeliss and OUTstanding, has been named today 64th in The Independent’s ‘Rainbow List’ of 101 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex [LGBTQI] people who are making Britain better for the community.
On hearing this great news, Suki said he felt honoured and privileged to be included and highlighted the importance of lists like these, and the OUTstanding power lists published in the Financial Times, and how they are a massive step in the right direction to normalising diversity as they show all employees that they too should be able to feel proud and accepted in their careers.
“It’s very important that people feel empowered be their authentic selves in the workplace and stop thinking, ‘I can’t succeed because I’m gay’,” he says.
In amongst the evident excitement of being placed on such an important list to the LGBTQI community, Sandhu also commented on how humbling it was to see himself on the list.
“My work is dedicated to improving the opportunities for acceptance for diverse communities at work, it’s not about me.”
“I initially wasn’t sure as to whether I’d want to be on the list as the work we do is all about who we do it for and the lives we, hopefully, can change in the process. I then realized, however, as a working-class, gay, BME male, it is my obligation to the communities I represent to showcase that you can be your authentic self and also succeed.”
Earlier this year, OUTstanding reviewed the annual reports of the FTSE 100 members. This revealed that while 99% of the annual reports refer to diversity as a whole, nearly half failed to mention policies for gay, lesbian or bisexual employees and 80% of these lacked any mention of non-discrimination policies for transgender employees.
This proves that diversity isn’t just about rhetoric and quotas and there is still such a long way to go to achieve holistic diversity in the workplace. We at Audeliss will continue to dedicate our mission to achieving greater diversity in and outside the workplace, as, as we know, this is in Suki’s DNA.
11th June 2015
Our CEO and Founder, Suki Sandhu, surprised the whole team with the destination the day before, then off we all went on the Eurostar on a Thursday afternoon arriving in Paris to beautifully sunny weather. We had dinner in the Montmartre area before wondering round the sights to see the Sacré-Coeur. The following night, we went to the gorgeous George’s, a restaurant at the top of the Pompidou centre, and then to some of the local bars until the small hours. Everyone had a great time and once all the sore heads recovered the following morning the bonding continued and relationships were strengthened further.
‘Be human’ is one of our core values at Audeliss, and this mini-break reminded us that there is always a person behind their office responsibilities and that a company is only as strong as the team behind it.
3rd February 2015
This is the EXCITING news I’ve been wanting to share for weeks!!
As of this week, Dr Neil Bentley, former Deputy Director-General of the CBI, is taking over as CEO of OUTstanding.
I will be the Founder & Chair and will still very much be involved with OUTstanding, but with less of a day-to-day role. Joseph Galliano will remain Deputy CEO.
Neil brings a wealth of experience from working with business leaders across the economy over twelve years at CBI, on issues ranging from energy and climate change and public service reform to employment and skills policy. Over the past three years, Neil has been a trustee and Deputy Chair of Stonewall and has recently been advising the Science Council on its strategy for diversity and inclusion. His PhD is in race equality in the workplace.
Neil’s main focus will be to create a step change in the conversation about LGBT diversity in business and amplify the voices of OUTstanding’s corporate and individual members about the benefits of authentic and diverse leadership.
His role also extends to heading up the new Board Practice for Audeliss where I will continue as Founder & CEO.
Neil is the dream addition to the OUTstanding and Audeliss teams – I designed the dual-role specifically with his skill set and experience in mind. OUTstanding will provide Neil with the platform to champion LGBT diversity and inclusion in business leadership and Audeliss will provide the vehicle for him to proactively appoint diverse candidates into the boardroom for Non-Executive Director and Trustee roles. Neil shares our values and has a strong belief in our mission. It is time for a disruptive and game-changing proposition to radically improve diversity in the highest echelons of the business world and this dual-role for Neil allows us to do this. I am incredibly excited for his arrival. Together, we are going to make a real impact on the boardroom.
Here’s to another OUTstanding year for us all!
2nd January 2015
2015 has been an incredible year. So much has happened and there are so many personal and professional highlights some of which are listed below:
- Buying a new home with my husband in Clerkenwell
- The birth of my new nephew named Hari (who’s name I provided!)
- Meeting Lady Gaga after her concert in Dublin
- Dinner with David Furnish in his home in London and sharing the experience with some close friends
- Going to an afternoon tea party in aid of the Albert Kennedy Trust in Sir Ian McKellan’s home
- Being on the front row of the Rick Owens fashion show during Paris Fashion Week with one of my best friends and then having the craziest night out afterwards
- Hiring Joe Galliano as my Deputy CEO into OUTstanding
- Ellie celebrating her 3rd anniversary with Audeliss
- The growth of the OUTstanding membership has been phenomenal and I’m so proud of the loyal support we’ve cultivated
- The publication of OUTstanding’s Top 100 Power List in the FT and the party we had to celebrate it was amazing
- Being interviewed on Sky News when Tim Cook publicly came out
- We completed a big search to help one of our clients find a Head of Innovation which demonstrated our creativity, determination and team work
- One of my best friends getting engaged in Chicago!!
- Catching up with my GBF in NYC for my birthday
- The wedding on friends in NYC and Thailand
- Staying in The W Hotel in Thailand in Koh Samui during one of the above friends wedding which was probably one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in
- A big gay weekend for a friends 40th birthday in Dorset with no less than three outfit changes in one day
- A big gay weekend in the South of France at a friends gorgeous home
- A fabulous holiday in Sitges and Barcelona
- The tasting menu in Tim Raue’s restaurant at the start of the year in Berlin
- Met some AMAZING new people who I see as dear friends
I feel so lucky to have experienced all of the above and don’t take it for granted one bit. So what are some of the highlights coming up in 2015?
- The Coachella Festival in LA followed by a short stay in Palm Springs & fun weekend in Las Vegas
- Going to Eurovision in Vienna. Yes Eurovision!!
- At least three weddings to go to
- A trip to San Francisco
- Some SUPER exciting hires in Audeliss and OUTstanding (watch this space)
I wish everyone a very happy, successful and healthy 2015.
21st October 2014
Yes you read that correctly. I. Met. Lady Gaga. I’m still in disbelief about it but the photos above prove it did actually happen. They weren’t taken in Madame Tussaud’s but after her ArtRAVE concert in Dublin last week. The show was incredible. The thing I like about Lady Gaga is that she is a true musician. She sings live, dances brilliantly and plays a multitude of instruments. She also has this fantastic ability to connect with her audience or as she puts it, her little monsters. About twenty of us were taken backstage and had to wait about an hour before we had our meet and greet with her. She sat with us for about thirty minutes whilst we were given opportunities to ask questions ranging from how much did her parents contribute to her success to where does she get her confidence from. She was friendly, humble, inspiring and honest. I adore her even more than I did before. She has done so much to support the LGBT community and I got the chance to thank her in person. Her words that resonated with me was always be authentic and true to yourself. Something I totally live and breathe myself. We need more role models like her in the world.
14th October 2014
Looking back, I can’t even begin to tell you what a crazy whirlwind of a year it’s been for OUTstanding. This time last year we had 6 corporate members, now we have an amazing 21, including 9 members of the FTSE 100, and an ever-growing set of inspirational individual members.
Last week (October 9th), we were so proud to release the 2014 OUTstanding lists of LGBT & ally business leaders with our media partner, the Financial Times. We had an overwhelming number of nominations and it was incredibly difficult to narrow it down to a Top 100 LGBT and a Top 20 Allies. It genuinely saddens me that we couldn’t feature everyone who was nominated.
Of course, as is the nature of these lists, we did have to find someone who was top, and someone who was bottom. 2014 has been an incredible year for LGBT equality in the UK and part of this was seeing our first ever openly gay CEO of a FTSE 100 company. His ground-breaking appointment is a massive step for LGBT equality in business, and it makes Christopher Bailey, CEO & CCO Burberry, a well-deserving recipient of our LGBT business leader of the year award.
This year, not only did we have a top 100 LGBT, but we also created the first ever Top 20 allies in business list. As we’ve grown as an organisation, we’ve realised more and more the importance of visible ally role models. After 40 years advocating LGBT rights, and most recently speaking out against the Ugandan ‘anti-gay’ bill, whilst spearheading the outrageously successful Virgin Group, Richard Branson places himself firmly as our top ally, and the recipient of our inaugural lifetime LGBT ally award. The lovely people at Virgin were kind enough to send us a fantastic video of Richard accepting his award, which can be viewed here.
The response to the lists has been phenomenal. We had more media attention than we could have ever imagined, more than doubling our press from last year, and even getting so much traffic that our website crashed! It’s only fitting that we also held our biggest event yet. Kindly hosted by Deustche Bank, we were joined by over 300 people who helped us in raising a glass (or several) to all of those who are truly making the workplace a more welcoming place for LGBT people. We even had Lionel Barber, Editor of the FT, who was kind enough to share his thoughts on the list. His inspiring speech from the evening can also be viewed by clicking here.
As I wrap up my incredibly long blog post (but I did have lots of exciting news to share!), I just want to remind everyone that our work here is not done. Last year I was told countless stories of people seeing the list and stepping up and being more true to themselves, and I hope to see more of the same this year. Please share your stories with us and help us to celebrate all of the OUTstanding heroes of the business world.
For more information on OUTstanding and to view the photos from our fabulous event visit our website – www.out-standing.org.
1st August 2014
In the Autumn, The Financial Times are publishing the OUTstanding top 100 LGBT business role models and top 20 Allies list. We want to hear from you about the senior leaders who make a difference. Are you, or would you like to nominate:
An LGBT business role model
This is a successful senior business person who is LGB or T. They will be open about their sexuality or gender identity in both their private and public lives. They actively contribute to an environment where all of their colleagues feel safe and able to bring their whole authentic selves to work.
This is a senior executive who, although not LGB or T themselves, champions LGBT equality in the workplace. They make certain that work is a safe and welcoming environment. They enable all of their colleagues to bring their whole, authentic selves to work.
Both LGBT and Ally nominees must be senior executives positioned within approx. the top 3% of their organisation (depending on size of business) and able to demonstrate a positive impact on LGBT inclusion in the workplace. You can nominate here. Let’s make this year’s list even bigger and better.
28th March 2014
It was such a privilege to take some of our clients and associates to this year’s Stonewall Equality Dinner.
It was an honour hosting a powerhouse of business leaders on the Audeliss table including Lord Browne and Dawn Airey, who both sit on the advisory panel for OUTstanding, the LGBT membership organisation also founded by our CEO, Suki.
Stonewall raised an incredible £400k on the night- which is just amazing, especially when shortly after we got to hear from Ruth Hunt, the acting CEO of Stonewall, who delivered an inspirational and passionate speech about the dedicated work Stonewall deliver on an annual basis, and how the money raised helps towards those efforts. Ruth was amazing and I hope she gets confirmed into the job permanently.
5th February 2014
Yes really! That’s what I’ve been nominated for at the Out in the City & G3 awards which are coming up in April this year. I feel incredibly proud and honoured to have been nominated, especially along side individuals whom I admire like Tim Jarman, Assistant Director for Diversity and Inclusiveness, EY and Stephen Clarke, CEO, WHSmiths. I love what I do and I love diversity. The nomination recognises my efforts with driving lesbian and gay (LGBT) diversity at the senior level in business via OUTstanding. OUTstanding is a professional network for LGBT executives and allies. I launched it in June last year with the help of Lord Browne (former Group CEO of BP) and our media partner is the Financial Times. Some of our corporate members include BP, Barclays, EY, Google and IBM. I’m really proud of what we’ve done in such a short space of time and so many exciting plans for 2014. If you have the time to quickly vote for me then please do by clicking here. Thank you.
12th November 2013
What a fun night once again! The atmosphere, the fashion, the champagne were all fabulous. Team Audeliss rocked the evening and met lots of wonderful people. I got to meet one of my professional crushes, Mary Portas. I adore her philosophy about business and customer service. I’m normally never nervous meeting anyone but I did get clammy hands and my heart was racing when speaking to her. But enough about Mary! We had lots of fun watching a very entertaining awards ceremony. I couldn’t always understand what the host Susan Calman was saying as she has the broadest Glaswegian accent I’ve ever heard but it was heart warming seeing Lord Waheed Alli and the Russian LGBT Network as joint Hero of the Year. The hardcore of my group went onto an after party at Room Service in Soho. Being a Thursday night, I rarely go out like this as we have work the next day but seeing as it was the Stonewall Awards, I made an exception and we partied the night away bumping into Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters and Rough Copy from X-Factor (no idea who the latter group were as I gave up on X-Factor this year). We’re already looking forward to next year’s awards.
25th October 2013
What a month October is turning out to be! For months at OUTstanding, we have been asking for nominations for Role Models to be featured in our Top 50 OUTstanding in Business List. Published in a global supplement in the Financial Times, this list recognises the huge number of LGBT leaders who are proving the true value of authentic leadership. The criteria used for our list was more than just being LGBT. We wanted to highlight those executives who are not only LGBT, but who are willing to act as champions of diversity in their companies and in business. Even more than that, the people on The List are highly successful executives in their own right. They truly show that being open about your sexuality is not a barrier to rising to the very top in business. The submissions and quotes from the nominations were truly inspiring, they were all deserving of a place in the list, which made the ordering process all the more difficult. However, after months of preparation the list has been published, and we are delighted with the final result. We also published a half page advert for Audeliss which we’re very proud of as it embodies what we stand for. You can download the full supplement here. If you’d like to see photos from the celebration we did on the evening too then you can click here. I’m hoping next year we have a Top 100 list!!
30th September 2013
I am incredibly proud to announce that I won ‘Innovator of the Year’ at this year’s European Diversity Awards which were held in the Natural History Museum. I still can’t quite believe it. I never thought I was going to win but I was ecstatic about the nomination because OUTstanding in Business was being recognised for what we’re trying to achieve. Namely, promoting visible LGBT business role models and inspiring the next generation of leaders. So you can imagine my surprise when Jane Hill read my name out. I was actually shaking with nerves as I walked to the stage to collect my award and give a short thank you speech (apparently it wasn’t as bad as I thought!). You can see some of the official photos from the night here.
We have achieved some amazing things with OUTstanding in the space of just over three months including a media partnership with the FT who are publishing a supplement about us next month and we’ve signed up some of the world’s biggest brands to our membership including BP, Barclays, Google, AMEX, BAE Systems and EY. Even Stephen Fry tweeted about us to his 6.1 million followers last week. How amazing is that?
Once again, I must say a huge thank you to the OUTstanding team, Lord Browne and the LGBT executives themselves. It isn’t just about me. It’s about a collective of people who are driving this agenda for change and I am so happy to be part of this journey. There is so much more to do but I’m going to enjoy this moment while I can. The award itself sits proudly on display in the office.
P.S. For the record, I’m wearing my Burberry heart print shirt and I chose it before Harry Styles from One Direction wore it!!
19th June 2013
I’m so proud to say I launched another company last week called OUTstanding in Business which is a professional network for lesbian and gay (LGBT) executives. Lord Browne sits on the advisory panel along with a number of other CEOs including Harriet Green (Group CEO at Thomas Cook PLC), Dawn Airey (SVP, EMEA at Yahoo) and Ashok Vaswani (Global CEO Barclays Retail & Business Banking). Barclays very kindly sponsored and hosted the press launch who are also one of our Founding Corporate Members alongside BP, EY and Google. OUTstanding in Business is trying to promote visible role models at the executive level in business, challenge stereotypes, inspire future leaders and make the boardroom more diverse from an LGBT perspective. The headline of the event was a panel discussion on the importance of visible LGBT role models in the boardroom and authentic leadership. The photograph above shows who sat on the panel (from left to right):
- Paul Reed, CEO Integrated Supply & Trading (IST), BP plc
- Antonio Simoes, Head of UK Bank, Deputy CEO, HSBC Bank plc & Head of Retail Banking & Wealth Management, Europe, HSBC Bank plc
- Kirsty Bashforth (moderator), Group Head of Organisational Effectiveness, BP plc
- Ashok Vaswani, Global CEO Barclays Retail & Business Banking
- Liz Bingham, Managing Partner People & Talent, Ernst & Young UK & Ireland
It was an incredibly thought provoking, enlightening, and dare we say, entertaining discussion where there was an opportunity for guests to ask questions too. You can see some photos from the evening on the website on the press launch (hyperlink here) page. We’re going to be publishing a Top 50 list in the Financial Times later in the year which is very exciting! If you know any LGBT executives that might want to be involved then please let me know. My email is suki@OUT-standing.org.