Why bringing a family-like feel to the workplace fosters loyalty


For many members of the LGBT community, coming out is an ongoing process. But for Gavin, it was easier to come out as gay to his co-workers than to share another side of his identity with them: his ethnicity.

Gavin joined Irish Life as diversity and inclusion manager in July. While the journey to becoming a diverse and inclusive workplace is different for every organisation, people are more likely to be their true selves if they feel like they belong. That’s why, during a panel discussion on International Men’s Day in November, Gavin felt it was time to share that he’s a Traveller.

“Previously I would have talked quite openly about my sexuality, but that panel was the first time I felt comfortable coming out about my ethnicity,” Gavin says. “And the reason I felt comfortable doing it is that Irish Life very much feels like a family and I knew that no matter what I said, or who I am, I’m part of the team.”

And just as he’d hoped, his teammates have been nothing but supportive and encouraging.


“It’s easy to understand why people stay at the company for so long. Irish Life is ridiculously loyal to its employees and we’re all loyal to each other,” Gavin says. “I very much feel that if anything happens to me, whether in my professional life or my personal life, everyone at Irish Life would be there to support me. That’s true loyalty—who’s there when everything falls apart, who you can rely on.”

Millennials are frequently called the “job-hopping generation” but as Gavin points out, many companies today hire on a fixed-term or temporary basis, which ultimately has an impact on employee loyalty.

“People talk about millennials not being loyal to their companies and wanting to change jobs all the time but I think the fault lies with the employers,” he says. “I have a permanent contract with Irish Life. They made a commitment to me and I’m determined to make a commitment to them. The loyalty is reciprocal.”

For Gavin, it comes down to how Irish Life chooses to engage with its employees, from looking out for their best interests to providing opportunities to grow and develop.

“People are looking for more work-life balance now and if they think their employer is out for the bottom line and doesn’t care about them, then they’re not going to stick around,” he says. “When an employer is genuinely authentic and cares for you as Irish Life does, it has a trickle-down effect that creates a family-like atmosphere in which everyone thrives.”