Updated: Sep 26, 2022
We sat down with diversity, equity and inclusion specialist Char Erskine, an attendee of our Pride & Beyond Queer Leadership Summit and Retreat, to hear about her experience and how she's using our teachings to drive change in both her professional and personal life.
What was one thing you learned from the Pre-Pride Summit?
One of the key things I learned during the Summit was around setting healthy boundaries and ensuring that my wellbeing comes first so that my work for the Queer community is sustainable. Finding my guilt-free “no” when an opportunity or piece of work is not right for me is something that made this year’s Pride season slightly easier to navigate following the Summit and I have continued to work on holding those healthy boundaries, which is so valuable as someone working in the DEI field.
What was one thing you enjoyed from the Beyond-Pride Retreat?
The most enjoyable part of the Retreat was the overwhelming sense of safety within the space. Going into the Retreat felt like I had entered a safe bubble away from all of the negativity that can come with being visible and vocal about LGBTQ+ inclusion. The Queer community is so diverse, and we all carry different experiences with us, but knowing that everyone arrived with similar intentions to relax, re-energise and connect as a community of changemakers was very reassuring. As an anxious introvert, I have never felt myself open up and breathe so easily as I did throughout the retreat.
How was the content relevant in your role as a Queer Leader?
The content was great for helping me recognise the type of leader that I would like to be and how I can be a resilient and compassionate leader through the work that I do. As a leader, I’m in a privileged position to be able to connect with people from such varied walks of life and share stories and experiences that are unique to this community. The focus on connection throughout the Retreat was something that I feared on day #1, but had embraced and learned so much from by the final day.
"Connecting with people is a vital part of the role we play as Queer leaders, so embracing that vulnerability and opening up to others is something that will make me a better leader in the future." - Char Erskine
How has the experience supported your work and impacted other areas of your life?
The experience to meet and connect with so many people who have different identities and lived realities within the Queer community was a turning point in the way I see myself as part of this community. I no longer feel like I have to be anything other than myself to prove that I belong in Queer spaces, which is something that has come through a number of We Create Space events that I have attended. This has really helped me feel more confident in my own identity and I feel that I can own the title of ‘Queer Leader’ now, which is something I struggled to call myself before this experience.
About Char Erskine.
Char (she/they) is a Senior Inclusion Manager at Taylor Wessing and has worked in DEI and early careers in the legal sector for a number of years. She is proud of her Afro-Caribbean heritage, to be the first in their family to attend and graduate from university, and subsequently build their career in the corporate world. As a Black, Queer person, who lives with anxiety and depression, they have a particular passion for intersectionality in their inclusion work, and she strives to be the positive representation that she could not see while growing up.
Special thanks go to Pride at JTI who kindly sponsored a number of community spaces; to our brand partners Aesop, lululemon and Papier for your support; to all the facilitators and speakers; and Andrew Urwin who took these beautiful photographs.
Want to sponsor our Pride & Beyond events in 2023?
By investing in this kind of support, businesses not only become active in their allyship but also demonstrate supporting LGBTQ+ leaders in making long-lasting impact and change during Pride and Beyond is a priority. If you would be interested in sponsoring our Pride & Beyond events, including our Pre-Pride Virtual Summit (10-11 May 2023) please get in touch for more information.