When Drew Bradford’s son came out as gay, one of his first thoughts was how the world might treat him differently.
“Charlie was 16 when he came out and I started to reflect on what his life might be like as a gay man now compared to 20 or 30 years ago when I was that age,” Drew said.
“As a parent I had a lot of questions. I wanted to know the differences and challenges he would come up against, what discrimination and prejudices he might face and what doors might be shut to him that would be open if he was straight.”
It prompted Drew, Executive General Manager for Global Markets at NAB, to consider ways he could support his son and others to be their authentic self.
“I had been to Oxford Street a few times to watch Mardi Gras, but definitely wasn’t active in the community and would have described myself as a passive ally,” he said.
Drew decided to change that and become active in his allyship. These days he co-executive sponsors NAB’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group NAB Pride which has been awarded Gold Employer status four years in a row at the Australian LGBTQ Inclusion awards.
Getting involved in NAB Pride evolved Drew’s view of what active allyship means.
“When I wear the pride pin or rainbow lanyard, colleagues may not know who I am but if they see a visible sign of active allyship they might feel safe and supported,” said Drew.
“I saw how damaging it could be for a child when their parents don’t accept who they are.”
Drew experienced this firsthand through his son’s friends at uni.
“Some of Charlie’s friends were not accepted by their families or communities,” he said. “Rather than going home, they would come to our house because they felt comfortable with us.”
One way of building advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community is through events like Wear It Purple Day, which was established in 2010 to show young LGBTQ+ people everywhere that there are allies who support them.
Whether out or not, knowing that you are not alone and having others visibly support you is a powerful thing.
“Visible signs of support like the NAB Pride pin or wearing purple on this day can help LGBTQ+ people feel more comfortable and included,” said Drew. “It tells people throughout the organisation that they are in a safe and supportive space.”
“The more allies we have advocating for inclusion in the workplace, the better it is for the LGBTQ+ community and other minorities. Otherwise, we’re missing out on the significant benefits of having a truly inclusive and diverse workplace.”
“People perform at their best when there is genuine inclusivity and we all truly thrive when we’re ourselves”
Wear It Purple Day is on 26 August. Get involved and wear purple to show your support to young people from the LGBTQI+ community. To learn more about how NAB nurtures an inclusive and diverse workplace visit NAB Pride.