UK Pride month 2024: Andrew Gaskell, RGA Reinsurance, Australia

UK Pride month 2024: Andrew Gaskell, RGA Reinsurance, Australia We’re celebrating UK Pride month and 10 years since the legalisation of same sex marriage in England, Wales, and Scotland. Andrew Gaskell, from our Diversity Action Group, invited 3 IFoA members who are also members of the LGBTQ+ community to join him in sharing their thoughts. The UK Pride month 2024 series starts with Andrew’s blog.

Why do you think Pride festivals are still important?

It gives an opportunity for specific interest groups to represent themselves and their issues to the LGBTQ+ community and the broader community. It allows the LGBTQ+ community to take up space in the world for a specific time period and provides visibility to those perhaps coming to terms with their sexuality. It allows us to thank volunteer groups, people in service and to celebrate those that have fought for the rights we have today. And perhaps most importantly its colourful, fun and a celebration that everyone including those not from the LGBTQ+ community can join in too. I took part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2011 in the Australian marriage equality float. It was so much fun dancing up Oxford Street and even though it was a cool 18-degree rainy day and night (which for a Sydney summer is very unusual) it was one of the best experiences in my life. Australia legalised marriage equality in 2017.

Whilst a lot has been achieved particularly in the legalisation of same sex marriage in many countries are there other changes you would like to see in your country to promote equality, support and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ communities in wider society?

Whilst Australia is generally a safe place for members of the LGBTQ+ community particularly in the big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne the statistics do show that young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are at higher risk of mental health issues and generally commit suicide at a greater rate than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. I would like to see more support and education around LGBTQ+ issues in schools to address tolerance and acceptance of diverse young people to improve these mental health issues. We have also seen in some countries that rights that have been won in the past can quickly be taken away without the support of the broader community.

How important is it that employers supports diversity, equity and inclusion?

I think it’s important that everyone can be themselves in their workplace and to feel safe and valued so that you can perform at your best and bring your own unique point of view to the company. Each year my company celebrates Sydney Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras by decorating the office and holding a colourful afternoon tea sharing the history of the event and starting a discussion on its purpose. This is part of a series of colourful lunches and celebrations we have throughout the year to celebrate all kinds of cultural, religious and diverse groups and educate the wider workforce. It makes the company I work for a great place and its of huge importance to me and a big reason why I choose to work there.

How should the actuarial profession support and promote DEI and attract and support those from diverse communities including the LGBTQ+ community?

I think visibility is important for all diverse groups so the more we can demonstrate ourselves as a profession full of diverse professionals with different backgrounds and points of view the better. Through this visibility I think we will attract more people from diverse backgrounds into the profession.

Read more in our Pride series

Chris Cullen, EY, James Smalley, RGA Reinsurance, Sophia Davies, LCP, and Andrew Gaskell, RGA Reinsurance, share what Pride means to them and their experiences in the actuarial profession.

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