Jessie Fraher

Internal Account Manager

"I grew up in an environment where ‘coming out’ at 14 definitely wasn’t normal. However, I never let that stop me from being me."

From the age of two, I was raised by my grandparents in New Zealand, both of whom are very traditional and quite religious. As a result, I grew up in an environment where ‘coming out’ at 14 definitely wasn’t normal. However, I never let that stop me from being me. I’ve always been proud of who I am. My nana, now 82 and generations apart from me, accepts my partner Kate wholeheartedly, often calling her just to tell her she’s her favourite Aussie. And she’s even excited about us getting married. How cool is that!

Not judging people on face value is important to me. When you go to a business or networking event, you can see some people are nervous about being accepted. But this is where I’m in my element; approaching people from all walks of life, asking them questions and seeing if they have a challenge I can help them with. Maybe this comfort comes from growing up as an only child. I had to learn how to communicate and build relationships with people much older than me (there’s a 52 year age difference between my grandparents and me!). Being friendly, curious and making people feel included is a great way to build relationships. I always give people a chance. I feel grateful to have met some super interesting and intelligent people who have inspired me in so many different ways. This is the main reason why I love being involved and accepted as part of the Allianz Pride network. As part of the committee, we meet monthly and I get involved in organising and hosting different events including talks with guest speakers, expos, and virtual education sessions all over Australia. It feels really good sharing who we are and what we do and it’s important to encourage new members to join or become allies.

At the moment, Allianz Pride and NEO (Network for Equality and Opportunity supporting gender balance, inclusion and equality) are working on a joint initiative to help improve the visibility and engagement of LGBTI women at Allianz. A recent survey conducted by GLEE@PwC and Pride in Diversity found that a sense of belonging and connection is often missing for a number of same-sex attracted women in the workplace. Almost 30% of the survey respondents believe that being same-sex attracted inhibits their ability to progress their careers, while just over half of the respondents (51%) also believe that being a female is an inhibitor.

I think it’s critical that we do whatever we can to strive towards gender and sexual equality, especially for young LGBTI women who are less comfortable coming out than their more senior colleagues. If I can stand up, share my story and show other LGBTI women that if I can be accepted, so can they. To give them a level of confidence that they can speak up in that meeting, go for that different role and be accepted for their whole-selves, not judged on just a small part of who they are. If I can do this small thing, then I feel like I’m making a huge difference.