This post originally appeared on Linkedin

Oliver is a Creative Producer and Digital Content Designer at DWP Digital

The very first time I came out at work was after I relocated from Ireland to London. I was in a new job working with people from all over the world. One of my colleagues had a gay flatmate that she used to talk about, so one day, after several months I dropped the fact that I’m also gay into the conversation and that was it. I had already made some good friends there and they all accepted me without judgement. All the concerns that I’d worked up in my head just disappeared and it felt wonderful to just be accepted for who I was.

Unfortunately, more than a third of LGBT+ people have hidden or disguised that they are LGBT+ at work because they were afraid of discrimination. And according to a 2018 Stonewall report, 58% of young people are more likely to hide their sexuality when they start their career.

Going back ‘into the closet’ is something I’ve been conscious of when I’ve changed companies or moved jobs. With each job it can often feel like you’re coming out all over again.

Bringing our whole self to work is so important. Luckily I work at DWP Digital, an organisation where I can be myself and have the freedom to be who I really am. Being my true self is something I strive for and as a teammate this makes me more proactive, motivated and helps me excel at work.

I’ve been with DWP Digital for over a year now. When I first joined my manager encouraged me to join DWPride (our LGBT+ support network) and introduced me to Rachel Poole. Having a team mate like Rachel has helped me feel even more comfortable in bringing my authentic self to work. I don’t just see Rachel as a colleague but consider her a dear friend.

I feel fully accepted at work for who I am and what I can bring to the table, not just professionally but from my own life experiences.

As LGBT+ people we’re a minority group and it’s important that we support and lift each other up. So be proud, be true and most of all be kind to yourself and others.