Charlotte, Content Designer
When Charlotte, a member of the LGBT+ community, decided to leave her journalist background and apply for a police staff role, she decided it might not be wise to declare her sexuality on the application form – just in case it worked against her.
“When I joined, I decided that I wouldn’t be silent about who I was, but I wouldn’t shout about it either. I only confided in those colleagues who I felt comfortable with,” she recalls. Three years on, she now proudly chairs the popular and well-supported LGBT+ Staff Network at Avon and Somerset Police.
Charlotte works in a problem-solving and creative role, designing content for the force website and intranet. “I was working on an online form and felt compelled to ask why gender choices were limited to male, female or prefer not to say. I realised I needed to speak to out and raise this question on behalf of everyone who wasn’t being given the freedom of gender expression. The support I received for pushing for change showed me I work in an environment which doesn’t build walls; instead it welcomes people for who they really are.”
Charlotte found herself empowered to do more. She became determined to play her part in helping to create an inclusive environment and updated her staff record to reflect her sexuality, no longer choosing prefer not to say.
Since working at Avon and Somerset Police, she has felt confident enough to cut her hair short – something she had never felt able to do in previous jobs. “I could never have imagined being so open about my sexuality but now I want people to see that, like me, they can be out and proud and turn up to work every day being their true selves. I hope the steps I take inspire others and help to empower real change.
“I had wrongly assumed that I would be joining a police force run by outdated values and viewpoints, but instead I’ve found support and encouragement for me to be who I am.”
“We’re an eclectic mix and whatever your gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race or creed, we need you, welcome you and want you to be proud of who you are. The force is inclusive, caring and has a real appetite to be ahead of the curve. We need more people to join and be the difference.”