An Interview with Kate Hill, Customer Service Manager at Santander
Please introduce yourself and tell us your role at your organisation.
My name is Kate Hill, I am 26 years old and live with my fiancé, Sarah.
I am a Customer Service Manager in branch at Santander in Huddersfield, having worked for Santander since I left school at 17 and couldn’t imagine a better start to my career in the working world. I am a line manager of 8 colleagues and work closely with other leaders across the network to support my team to achieve the best they can be to give an experience to our customers that is second to none. I also look after a team of leads from our LGBT+ employee network, Embrace supporting our LGBT+ colleagues and Allies to help create an inclusive environment for our colleagues and communities.
Kate (left) with her partner Sarah
Kate (left) with her partner Sarah
Do you think the representation of lesbian and bi women has changed for kids growing up now?
I honestly believe we live in a society where lesbian and bi women are classed as ‘normal’ in most societies however there is still a lot of work to do. When I was at school, it was unheard of for a child to have ‘2 mums’ however now I believe it is becoming more the norm, kids will always ask questions about something that isn’t representative of their own homes however I think that teachers, and the general public are more understanding and can support children to understand and accept the ever-changing world. I think that TV shows represent more lesbian and bi women which is always a positive.
What are some challenges faced by lesbian and bi women that most people don’t realise?
One of the main challenges I have faced personally, especially working in a customer facing environment, is the expectation that when I talk about my partner at home, it's assumed that partner is male. The conversation in branch when customers see my engagement ring can be quite awkward, or even embarrassing when a customer asks ‘how did HE propose’ and I come back with ‘Sarah and I were in Paris….’ The generalisation talking about ‘I hope HE looks after you at home’ can cause quite a conflict in me as I don’t want to embarrass anyone by correcting them, but neither do I want to hide who I am.
What are some tips you would give someone who wants to be a better ally to lesbian and bi women?
Don’t take on face value that someone who Is a lesbian, or bi, wants to always tell the world about it because they are ‘different’ to you. I often get asked numerous very personal questions, which on most occasions I am fine with, but I know when I first came out, I found it very difficult to talk about but felt that I had to tell everyone rather than wanting to!
Lesbian and bi women are only human, don’t treat us any different because of it, I believe that everyone should be treated as the human that they are, not different because of their sexuality.
Be understanding, some lesbian and gay women will have had a real struggle to get to the place that they are now at, and some will still be on that journey.
What advice would you give to a young lesbian or bi woman entering the professional world?
BE YOURSELF! Coming into a professional environment isn’t easy no matter what your sexuality. Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t and don’t hide who you are.
Engage your passion for your work, and your beliefs into being the best you can be. Believe in yourself, as a lesbian or bi woman, or whoever you are, and you will achieve. You might not change the world for everyone, but helping one person feel more welcome, feel empowered or generally be a better person and you’re already on your way!
How do you think organisations can ensure everyone feels comfortable to be themselves in the workplace?
Santander has shown a real empowerment for the LGBT community by having a people network where you can connect and network with colleagues that have faced similar challenges and share stories. Connecting with different people networks and knowing that you aren’t alone helps everyone to be themselves. It’s also important to treat everyone with the respect they deserve, treat each employee as an individual and if you don’t understand the way of someone’s life, that’s okay! Just understand as a leader that if we all shared the same ideas and beliefs, the world would be a very boring place!