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Being yourself at work is something that LGBTQ+ people continue to wrestle with. As part of our Out at Work series, Vada Magazine meets Hable’s PR and Communications Manager, Rosie Hall.
Rosie Hall was coming to the end of secondary school and dreading it. She’d submitted her UCAS application to study at university and was even in the process of looking for accommodation, when she found herself questioning if this was the right path for her. “At the time, I really felt like there wasn’t anything I loved enough to justify that commitment,” says Hall. “Both because of the length of time and the financial side of things. I also felt like my school was kind of pressuring me down that avenue.”
During her search for other options, an apprenticeship in marketing, located closer to home, caught her eye. The idea of earning whilst studying, tempted her. “The job description seemed to contain multiple things I enjoyed,” explains Hall. “Writing, social media, making things look pretty… It just fit.” That was ten years ago, and she now can’t imagine herself doing anything else.
Reflecting on her career to date, Hall tells me that she feels lucky to have had such a varied career. Having worked mostly in the B2B technology space, she has also worked in the third sector, for organisations of various sizes. It’s certainly been a learning curve: from working at a company out of an industrial estate in Luton, through to global behemoths.
However, it would be a LinkedIn message asking her if she was “in the job market” one day, that would change things. Admittedly, Hall was not looking to leave her job at the time, yet she says the message intrigued her. “We had a few conversations and I just felt like his company, Hable, would be a great fit,” she recalls of the message from Founder and CEO, Mark Reynolds. “I was inspired by Mark’s vision and equally impressed with the culture of the company. Hable prioritise employee wellbeing and are dedicated to ensuring diversity and inclusion are core to the business.” For Hall, it felt like a no-brainer and Hable is where she still works today, as their communications manager.
Whilst Hall now works for an organisation that values diversity and inclusion, her experiences of being herself in the workplace haven’t always been positive. Her first job came straight after school, at a time when Hall was juggling stepping into the world of work alongside coming to terms with being gay. In fact, she says one of the first questions she was asked by a colleague was if she had a boyfriend. “I had only just admitted to myself that I was gay and being faced by this question so soon into my career just sent me into panic mode,” recalls Hall. “It almost felt like I was moving from one closeted situation to another.”
Due to the small size of the company, Hall tells me she didn’t feel able to come out during her three years there. Away from the office, she came out to friends and family, and embarked on her first relationship. “I felt quite trapped,” Halls says of that time, looking back now. “And guilty that I wasn’t being totally honest with the friends I’d made at work. It was definitely affecting my performance too. It was probably the first time I recognised the impact that being closeted can have on your mental health.”
By the time Hall started her second job, aged 21, she felt herself leave behind her awkward teenage years and gain a sense of self. The colleagues she worked with became like family, with Hall feeling able to be open with them about her sexuality. “‘Do you have a boyfriend?,’ they’d ask. ‘Actually no, my girlfriend and I just broke up,’ and that would be it,” she recalls. “I quickly learnt you can be open and out at work, and people sort of just get on with it. For the most part.”
Since then, she has been in a relationship with a woman, who is soon-to-be Hall’s wife. “Since meeting her I don’t think I’ve ever lied about my sexuality at work,” says Hall. “Because you get to a point when you realise, actually, if they have a problem with it, that says more about them than about me.”
She credits working with people who have embraced her sexuality, rather than discriminated against her for it, and says she is lucky to have worked for organisations that are inclusive. “I never thought I’d be in a position where I’m out at work,” she admits. “Never mind my colleagues being actively excited about the fact I’m about to marry a woman! Life comes at you fast!”
For other LGBTQ+ professionals who might be thinking about coming at in their workplace, Hall says the key is to pace yourself. “Don’t rush yourself out of the closet, and definitely don’t come out if you don’t think you’ll be safe. Find your community, find your people, and they will have your back.”