Fostering community through our colleague-led network this Pride Month

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Founded in 2021, our colleague-led network, MaxPride, remains committed to supporting our LGBTQ+ colleagues and ensuring Maximus becomes a leading employer of choice for the LGBTQ+ community. Through close collaboration with our DE&I team and senior leaders, the network is driving meaningful change across the business by creating a safe space for learning, education, and advocacy on issues that matter. 

As we celebrate Pride Month, a time dedicated to recognising and honouring the LGBTQ+ community, James Russell, one of our MaxPride board members, reflects on his own experiences and the importance of fostering an inclusive and diverse community through the network.  

Finding community

My journey with MaxPride only began in August 2023 but the past 10 months have been nothing short of extraordinary.  

Since joining the board I’ve been able to make connections across the business and learn different skills which I may not have been able to in my day-to-day role.  

When I joined the network, I expected to be helping to shape policies and raise awareness among colleagues, but what I didn’t anticipate was the value I would bring by sharing my own experiences with others. Being open about my struggles has allowed me to connect with and support colleagues navigating their own challenges. 

Taking an active role in a colleague-led network has opened a whole new community for me, allowing me to connect with others who have faced similar struggles and better understand my own identity at work. Each board member has an open door policy for anyone looking to talk and this has been key to building a sense of trust and community within MaxPride.

Finding a supportive community has not only helped my personal growth but also strengthened my commitment to advocating for inclusivity at Maximus. 

Coming out 

At MaxPride, we understand the struggle some people face being open about their sexuality and identity at work. We’ve seen good progress over the years but there can still sometimes be a stigma around sharing that part of your life. 

In the past, I’ve experienced negative reactions to coming out myself, both at work and in my personal life. These experiences made me wary of referring to my boyfriend when I first joined Maximus, out of fear of negative repercussions. Thankfully, over time, I’ve become more comfortable and stopped worrying about what people might think or say. Being honest about my sexuality has made me a happier and more confident version of myself in the workplace. 

MaxPride has created a number of resources to help colleagues understand how they can be open about their sexuality should they wish, while also highlighting that there is no obligation to share something that is deeply personal.  

Feeling connected

Since joining the MaxPride board and learning more about our colleague-led networks, I’ve experienced a positive shift in my work life. I feel more connected to my colleagues and our company values, now that I’m actively engaging with our community. 

The presence of a supportive community makes me feel seen and valued, especially with MaxPride actively promoting LGBTQ+ events every month. Knowing there is always an opportunity to connect with others and share experiences is invaluable.  

It’s reassuring to have support from a team dedicated to making a difference. For me, MaxPride is testament to Maximus’ commitment to listening to our needs, implementing necessary changes and becoming an inclusive employer.  

Driving change

I hope to see our network membership grow even further this year and look forward to attending Manchester Pride as a business in August. This year we’ve had more people attending our events than ever before and I look forward to continuing to build on that by raising the profile of MaxPride at Maximus.

I’m also eager to see the network continue to make real, tangible changes to the lives of our LGBTQ+ colleagues through the development of more inclusive policies. We’ve already taken great strides with the introduction of Trans Inclusion Guidance and paid Gender Reassignment Leave for colleagues going through the sensitive process of transitioning. 

As we look ahead, I am confident that MaxPride will continue to be a driving force for positive change, helping Maximus become an even more inclusive and supportive workplace for all. 

19 June, 2024