Syndie Simon is a manager in our corporate tax team, on a 12-month inclusion and diversity secondment, focusing on our LGBTQIA+ community. Syndie explains why she wanted to get involved, and the support she received from the firm to do it.

My inclusion journey within Grant Thornton started a few years ago when the firm started investing more heavily in this area, setting up a dedicated team and a network of Inclusion Allies to promote inclusion and diversity throughout the firm. As a result of the firm’s efforts, I noticed a genuine culture shift and it was clear that leadership backed up their words with tangible actions. Ultimately, this made me feel comfortable to come out and be honest with colleagues about my own sexuality as a queer woman a few years ago. The firm’s acceptance and support was so positive, it gave me the confidence to come out to my friends and family following this. 

Since then, I've taken a much more active role in inclusion across the firm. When we launched our Inclusion Allies programme, I signed up to become one, and we now have over 350 people actively integrating inclusion into our everyday thinking. Some have lived experiences of issues related to inclusion and diversity, while others are committed to supporting these communities. I also set up the LGBTQIA+ book club for members of the community and allies, so anyone can come to our bi-monthly meetings to talk about books covering a wide range of LGBTQIA+ identities. It’s been really well-received, and I think has helped educate people even more on the different strands and issues faced by this diverse community.

Inclusion and diversity
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 Encouraging us to excel   

The firm really encourages us all to succeed and supports us to develop our own interests. When the LGBTQIA+ secondment came up it felt like a great opportunity for me, and I was fully supported by my manager to do it.  

The secondments are 50% of your time, and balancing it with your main role takes commitment, but it’s absolutely doable and the firm helps you find a way that works for you. I split my week in two, working until Wednesday lunchtime on tax, and from Wednesday afternoon onwards on secondment. This gives me time to properly focus and dedicate the time needed to both roles. I also clearly communicate through my diary and my email signature when I'm working on each area, so it’s clear to everyone.  

Thinking beyond the secondment  

When I think about my secondment so far, my biggest achievement has been compiling this year’s Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, but that achievement belongs to everyone in the firm who supported it; putting together events, such as our pride ‘Bake-Off’, updating our policies to be explicitly LGBTQIA+ inclusive (not just compliant) and sharing stories internally and externally. I’m confident this will lead to maintaining the firm's recognition by Stonewall in the 2023 Index. 

In my remaining time on secondment, I would love to bring more focus to intersectionality and do more to generate awareness and make a positive impact on colleagues, crossing all communities. I really appreciate how we're encouraged to bring our own perspectives into the role.  

The secondment has really helped me to see my strengths, my weaknesses, and look at how I can use my strengths more in my corporate tax work, or how I can tweak things. Project management has never been my forte, but the secondment has helped me improve it.  

I think the work I've done on secondment has helped me make things better for my LGBTQIA+ colleagues and make our culture across the firm even more inclusive, but it's also been an invaluable experience for me. 

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