Junior Beaman profile photo

Creating a culture of acceptance without exception

Junior Beaman is an #IAmRemarkable Facilitator, Executive Coach and Global Co-Chair for the Natwest Group Rainbow Network. His background and own experiences have motivated him towards promoting a culture of inclusivity in the workplace (and beyond) and levelling the playing field for LGBTQIA+ people and other marginalised groups.

Tell us a bit about yourself

‘I'm a gay black man from a lower socioeconomic background. I went to six different schools, didn't finish college and didn't go to university. I got a job in a bank 16 years ago as a cashier and never really thought I would progress to this level. I am now a senior colleague and executive coach.

Because of my background- being Black and gay in the north of England, and from a lower socio-economic background - I've always had an awareness of the barriers that you have to keep jumping over to get to where you want to go. Other people seem to be going ten times faster because they don't have the same barriers as you.

Once I reached a position in my career where I was a leader and I had the power to influence and help other people, I was very aware that I needed to use this and help others come up to the same level!

The real challenge is what's being said when we aren't in the room. Who's standing up for us when we're not there? And who's trying to create a space for us at the table?

Junior Beaman

How does #AmRemarkable help to create safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people?

'A lot of queer people spend most of their childhood pretending to be something else to fit in or to get by and not feel at risk. As they get older it goes away a bit if they're in a good environment, but it can become ingrained that you cover up a part of who you are and are not able to celebrate and be loud about that.

Especially in the current climate in the UK, so many queer people are in that space where they have to ask themselves if it's safe to talk about who they are. I think #AmRemarkable, for LGBT+ people specifically, draws out all those great things about who you are, and what makes you special and different. It positively challenges some of that shame and helps you celebrate who you are.

What would you like to see change for the next generation of queer youth?

A culture of acceptance without exception. Where people feel safe, accepted and included without it being a performance. And people who genuinely are allies- and I mean active allies. Not just “I've got a rainbow lanyard on today” - what would you say if somebody said something about LGBT+ people that you didn't agree with?

The real challenge is what's being said when we aren't in the room. Who's standing up for us when we're not there? And who's trying to create a space for us at the table?

What do you think employers can do better to create spaces for LGBTQIA+ people to bring their full selves to work?

For corporations big and small, there are multiple things you can do. We have employee led networks (also known as employee resource groups), we have a DEl team that empowers us to go out there and challenge policy. So first of all, give people a voice and a sense of belonging.

Visibility. Are you creating a space where there are visible role models within the organisation?

Accountability for leaders. Do the senior leadership have a good understanding of LGBT+ issues? Are they helping people get to a space where they feel safe and they belong, and making sure they've got the same access to opportunities that the person next to them has got? Are they paying attention to what employee sentiment data is telling them and are they thinking about the future workforce and how they attract and retain that existing and future talent?

Keeping the momentum going beyond Pride Month. Whether it's Black History Month or Global Accessibility Awareness Day- there are gay people in those spaces too! So we need to bring that intersectionality together, and make sure that everyone's included.

And we can’t end this interview without asking you: What makes you remarkable? 
I am remarkable because I have been listed in the INvolve Top 100 LGBT+ Future Leaders list for the past two years for the work I have done and continue to do in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion space and my volunteer work supporting LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, refugees and the more vulnerable people in the community.

Thank you Junior for sharing your remarkable story and perspective with us!