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“There’s strength in unity,” Daniel Ironside shares his story

Daniel Ironside

We recently caught up with Daniel Ironside, one of our Learning Services Coordinators at Kaplan. He shared his experience of being an openly gay man working in a professional environment.

Although his work can be challenging at times, Daniel primarily focuses on the maintenance of ACCA MyKaplan courses. This can include supporting the design and content of ACCA courses when they update each exam sitting, assisting with website maintenance, or answering internal ACCA related queries.

He’s been with Kaplan since 2018 and has worked as a Student Services Advisor, Student Experience officer, and now as a Learning Services Coordinator. Aside from working at Kaplan, Daniel and his love for travelling has allowed him to lead an interesting life!

A bit about Daniel

Before Kaplan, he spent time travelling and working in South East Asia and Australia. Daniel studied and received the TESOL/TEFL (Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language) certificate on top of his university degree, and then taught English in Shanghai for a year while travelling. He then opted to travel around Australia to take in the culture in a part of the world that he’d never been to before.

As well as travelling, Daniel’s interests include equal rights, fashion, music and culture, film and TV and reading.

Can you tell us how you approached the conversation of your identity with your colleagues?

I don’t think I did have to ever come out at work in a big way, as I think my personal style and the way I hold myself probably makes my identity quite obvious! I don’t think many people would assume that I’m ‘heterosexual,’ in terms of a stereotypical sense.

I would say I approach the conversation of identity and being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in the same way as I would approach it if I was heterosexual. My method of discussion is casual, open, and honest as I don’t feel like I need to be secretive or shy about myself.

Daniel Ironside outside 

If I really dig deep to think about it then I think I do this in an attempt to show I am happy and accepting of who I am. If my method of conversation also helps to aid the normalisation of minorities and help create visibility in terms of equal rights, then that’s fantastic!

What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced as an openly out professional at work?

I think the main challenges faced as an openly out professional in the workplace is the fear of being subjected to homophobia, intolerance, or office gossip. Apart from homophobia, I think that unfortunately the latter is a general concern for anyone in a professional workplace, and it isn’t specific to minorities.

I have been luckier compared to some, being able to work in the present day where equality is being taken into consideration more than ever in society. For the majority of people that I’ve worked with, I wouldn’t assume there is any problem. Though I think that fear of intolerance due to historical treatment of LGBTQIA+ people is always there.

Has your identity ever influenced the way you approached your work?

I think my identity has influenced the way I work in only positive ways, such as making me open-minded to all types of people and how they identify themselves. There is a whole world out there of unique and different people, and I truly believe diversity, being inclusive, and taking the time to listen to everybody’s stories is what makes life so much more rich and interesting.

Speech marks

“I think that fear of intolerance due to historical treatment of LGBTQIA+ people is always there.”

What advice would you give to other LGBTQIA+ professionals who are coming out in their workplace?

I don’t think that I’m qualified to give advice to other LGBTQIA+ individuals wanting to come out in the workplace as everyone has such a unique journey. However, I would hope that they would feel comfortable and accepted enough in their workplace to be open and honest about who they are and what they believe in without prejudice.

Daniel Ironside wearing scarf

What advice would you give to allies on how they can support diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

I would say that taking a visible stance is key, and collaboration, however it takes form, is very important as there’s strength in unity. I would also say to allies to just be open-minded and accepting without having preconceived ideas or thoughts about who somebody is based on their identity. Normalising open and honest dialogue can only be helpful in the support of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Speech marks

“I truly believe diversity, being inclusive, and taking the time to listen to everybody’s stories is what makes life so much more rich and interesting. “

What do you think our industry can do to create a more welcoming environment?

I think our industry can create a more welcoming environment by creating more positions for minorities and exploring more avenues in the promotion of diversity and inclusivity. This could be done by reviewing policies for improvement, providing LGBTQIA+ training, celebrating LGBTQIA+ history, and organising fun events to get people involved in the cause however they can.

Are there any positive changes that you’ve seen in the world of work with regards to diversity and inclusion?

I think the world of workplaces in general is improving more over time, but there is still work to be done! LGBTQIA+ people and allies should never become complacent or lazy in terms of what they believe in and stand for.

Want to share your story?

Whether you’re a member or an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community, we would love to share your experience. If you’re interested in taking part, please complete our online form and we will be in touch shortly.

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