#PoweringPridePotential - Meet Hannah O'Brien
Hannah O’Brien is a candidate manager working in technology and transformation recruitment in our Brisbane office. As a lesbian who has recently come out, she shares why Pride is a time when she feels seen and accepted, her personal journey to coming out and how LGBTQIA+ people can still feel the pressure of conforming to societal expectations to be straight.
Why is Pride important for you and how do you celebrate the movement yourself?
Pride is important to me because it helps me to build a supportive community of people who understand what is happening in my life. It’s also a time when I feel seen and appreciated by the wider community which really helps me feel like I belong.
This year I’m planning on attending some marches in the city, but I celebrate Pride every day because of that fact that I am able to be myself. I also help to educate people on the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community and I show up for the people who have worked so hard to make this acceptance a reality.
What were your personal experiences of coming out?
It was a weird situation, as I’d been in romantic relationships with men until I was 21. After I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, I finally decided to explore a feeling I had felt since I was young. Ultimately, this led me to realise that I was just conforming to societal standards of sexuality, and that I was in fact gay.
It didn’t really come as a surprise to many people who were close to me. I was worried about coming out to my family, as I had never even spoken to them about the idea that I was sexually attracted to women. But they were my biggest supporters and didn’t even bat an eyelid about it. They love my girlfriend and always want to be supportive of those in this community.
What is Robert Walters like to work for as a member of the LGBTQ+ community? Does the company feel diverse and inclusive and if so, in what ways?
I feel extremely lucky to work for Robert Walters as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. There is always a focus on inclusion and diversity in our office and it makes me feel proud that Robert Walters is involved in so many things that help to recognise and celebrate diversity such as Pride month, Mental Health Awareness Week, International Women’s Day, International Men’s Day and National Reconciliation Week in Australia, which recognises and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures.
I feel extremely safe and supported by everyone at Robert Walters and was not worried one bit about introducing my girlfriend to anyone in the office.
What advice would you give to anyone who hasn’t come out yet but wants to? And what advice would you give about coming out in the workplace?
I don’t think coming out at work is something that anyone necessarily has to do, and the way I chose came out in the workplace was not necessarily a typical way – I invited my girlfriend along to the leaving drinks for a team member and it basically went from there.
For me, I think that coming out at work in a social environment is the best way to do it, rather than a completely work-related situation or event where people have expectations or other professional objectives or obligations, because coming out in a social environment really allows for authenticity and people usually respond better to things when they aren’t in a stressful environment.
Has being part of the LGBTQ+ community every impacted your experience in the workplace?
No, luckily. As I have only recently come out, I have never had to experience a negative outcome to being lesbian.
How has that changed over the years and have there been any improvements?
I think generally there have been improvements everywhere when it comes to accepting members of the LGBTQIA+ community but thankfully there are always more opportunities for growth and further improvements in this area.