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Claire Skinner' coming out story: "senior role models are crucial"

Not Peer Reviewe

I joined Mercer’s Investment consulting business in 1995, having graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Birmingham.  

In 2009 I took the opportunity to realise a lifetime ambition by training as a Maths teacher. Having spent two years in the public sector I missed the professionalism and challenges within the consultancy industry and returned to Mercer as a Senior Client Team Consultant within the Fiduciary Management Team


One of the reasons that I left Mercer in 2009 was that I did not feel I could be myself at work. When I returned in 2012 the LGBTA network was being established for the first time in the UK and I was delighted to be involved, attending the 2014 London Pride in a Stonewall/MMC T-Shirt.   


Since its creation in 2016 I have been a Diversity & Inclusion champion, chairing the UK D&I champion group and feeding into the D&I Advisory Group on a monthly basis. This has further opened my eyes to the wider D&I issues across the business and the challenges that many colleagues face in being able to bring the best of themselves to work.  



I myself came out to the UK Investment business as a whole in 2016, via email, because I think that senior role models are crucial. I have had many conversations in private with colleagues on the back of this visibility, including a colleague with a transsexual teenage son who I was able to help contact other parents in a similar position.


Coming out is now “easier” in that we have an intranet site dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion, and a separate Pride (LGBT+) community site. We also encourage all colleagues to produce a “diversity flower” where colleagues can share information about themselves if they wish to.


I am now global co-chair of our LGBT+ network, linking 25 separate chapters across Europe, the Pacific, and North America. This is no longer seen as a nice thing to do, it’s absolutely a business imperative to promote diversity and inclusion. We have instigated many initiatives that I am really proud of, from gender-neutral toilets to a full audit of all-out HR policies to ensure they are inclusive, to posters showing senior leaders' commitment to diversity and inclusion across all our offices. 


That said, I still struggle to be “out” to clients directly given the more formal context of client meetings and often being the only women in the room. I have found social media really helpful in this respective, especially twitter and linked in, where clients follow me and have commented on D&I content I have posted.



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