Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand Senior Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Lead Hayley Angell is advocating for inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community in the accounting industry through the Pride @ CA ANZ initiative.
In 2013 and 2017 the right to marry was no longer determined by sex or gender as citizens of New Zealand and Australia voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality. It was a huge step forward that couldn’t have come sooner for Hayley Angell, Queensland State Manager for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
Hayley married her wife in the United Kingdom in 2015 however upon returning to Australia, grew frustrated with a lack of inclusion in the accounting industry.
“I don't know that I'd ever felt excluded, but I never felt particularly included. I had many times in my career just dealt with assumptions that if I was married, it was to a man. I guess it didn't occur to me that my organisation at the time was completely silent on the issue, that my colleagues and my peers were completely silent.”
However, this all changed when Hayley joined CA ANZ and became involved with its queer network Pride @ CA ANZ, an initiative to provide LGBTQIA+ identifying Chartered Accountants with resources, connections, and support.
I finally learnt my diverse opinion, my colour, my energy, my sense of pride, my unique lived experience and my story actually bring so much to the table in terms of my career and what I can contribute to a team.
“It struck me that the change and inclusion is driven by individuals. Organisations are just a collection of the individuals within them. So, it's about individuals talking, stepping up, sharing their story, being present and occupying space. So that's why I did it,” Hayley said.
Find your peers with Pride
The Diversity Council reports fewer than 32% of LGBTQIA+ Australians are out in the workplace, while the WeCount NZ study concludes 58% of individuals in New Zealand are out at work. Additionally, the McKinsey and Co report 60% of LGBTQIA+ working professionals regularly experience microaggressions – disparaging remarks or incorrect assumptions about their personal life.
One of Pride @ CA ANZ’s main focuses is to provide visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community within both the organisation and its members. This is achieved through flags, symbols and events that promote a safe environment, such as ‘Wear it Purple Day’ or custom rainbow lanyards.
Ensuring LGBTQIA+ accountants feel seen and valued is an important part of creating visibility. Pride @ CA ANZ endeavour to make all new CA ANZ members aware of the initiative and extend the invite to connect if they feel comfortable to do so.
“Any new CA ANZ member is given information about Pride @ CA ANZ and how to get in touch. We love to sit down, have a coffee and help new members feel comfortable,” Hayley said.
These connections foster a sense of community and help new LGBTQIA+ identifying accountants begin their CA journey with confidence and pride.
“Members of Pride @ CA ANZ know what it feels like to stand out on a day-to-day basis. We want you to see that there is no requirement to be anything but yourself from day one,” Hayley said.
Make a difference by challenging policies
One of the best ways people can bring about change in the industry is through analysing policies in the workplace, at university, or in community groups.
Chartered Accountants ANZ makes sure all policies are non-gendered so that they are inclusive of all identities. However, not all firms have approached their systems and processes with non-heteronormative perspectives in mind.
“Sometimes policies are accidentally exclusive or create unintentional omissions ,” Hayley said.
"It is important to constantly reevaluate and challenge these policies and ask questions to see what changes can be made to ensure an inclusive workspace for everyone.”
Bring your whole self to the industry
By being herself and stepping out of her comfort zone, Hayley has been able to unlock career opportunities and the skills she needs to reach her goals.
“I finally learnt my diverse opinion, my colour, my energy, my sense of pride, my unique lived experience and my story actually bring so much to the table in terms of my career and what I can contribute to a team. I used to think it would take away from my worklife, but it only adds to it.” Hayley said.
As liberating as the results can be, advocating alone can be intimidating. Hayley said students and employees should seek power in numbers by finding pre-existing groups, networks and initiatives within their institutions.
“I would encourage all LGBTQIA+ young professionals or students to have a look online at your dream employer’s pride policies. Plenty of companies have amazing events, activities, queer leaders and individuals who are really stepping out and stepping up,” Hayley said.
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