Out and benefiting from it

After a long and enjoyable career IT with BP, Joanne Legge feels leaders need to set the tone for their organisations. If they get it right everybody can flourish.

Everybody has a role to play in ensuring they create an environment that is inclusive. Firstly, industries need to foreground the roles that are open to everybody. Organisations need leaders who don't shy away from difficult conversations. And, finally, members of the LGBT+ community themselves need to be visible.

Tell us who you are and about your experience

I'm Joanne Legge, and I am an IT&S manager in BP. I am accountable for the IT business partnership with several of our corporate functions including legal and group communications. I develop the IT strategy, the roadmap for implementation, and am the overall single point of accountability for IT delivery for those functions globally. I am a member of the BP pride steering committee, and also chair of the 'BP WIN IT&S' business resource group, supporting the BP group gender ambitions.

Why is this important to you?

I have an amazing career - I have been with BP 27 years, mainly in IT, and predominantly in the business analysis and consulting domain - and strongly believe that 'you have to see it to be it'. Role models are key to encouraging LGBT+ and other minorities to see the potential and the opportunities that are available to them. There were very few when I started my career, and so it's important to me to do this for future leaders.

What challenges have you faced in your career?

The biggest challenge has been a personal one, having the confidence to be out in the work place. In the early part of my career, I kept my work and my personal life very separate. By being myself, and bringing my whole self to work, I have been able to focus my energy on building better relationships, which is key to success in my role. It is a much better use of my energy!

How does the profession need to progress / develop?

I think attitudes are changing, and both the IT and the oil and gas industries are more inclusive than ever. There are three things I think that we can do to maintain that progress, and they are all about visibility:

  • First, the industry needs to promote the variety of roles available - one can have a varied and rewarding career in STEM, so make that more visible.
  • Second, senior leaders in the organisation must not shy away from having conversations about LGBT+ topics - being seen to be open to that conversation sets the right tone in your organisation, and will also attract talent.
  • Finally, we as LGBT+ individuals need to be more visible ourselves - be the role models that (maybe) we never had when we were starting out.

What one piece of advice would you give to others?

Use your energy wisely and make it positive - for you, your career and the company you work for.