Don't be stopped by stereotyping

Lloyd Bryan explores how stereotyping can damage personal wellbeing and team productivity. For those meeting it, he says don't let negative clich├ęs hold you back.

STEM based businesses and teams are all about new ideas and innovative solutions. To create, nurture and realise new products different perspectives are essential. Diverse teams, by their very definition, contain a wide mix of experiences, insights and abilities. But the diversity advantage can be lost if people don't feel they can contribute because of negative stereotyping.

Tell us who you are and about your experience

My name is Lloyd Bryan, I am 23 years old and was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire. I enjoy running, keeping fit, going to gigs and meeting new people.

I started my working life at Tesco PLC, spending five years as a customer assistant while studying for my BA Management Studies degree at the University of Leicester, graduating in 2014 with first class honours.

Following my graduation, I began working in my local NatWest branch as a personal banker. It provided me with a great opportunity to develop my knowledge in a practical setting and to meet a diverse range of people. In September 2016, I began working at Nationwide Building Society on the business transformation development programme as an analyst.

Why is this important to you?

Homosexuality was decriminalised 50 years ago. This is a brilliant opportunity to highlight how much has changed for the LGBT+ community since then. It's also a chance to highlight and to encourage greater diversity and equality in the STEM sector. It is of personal importance to me as it will hopefully engage with younger LGBT+ individuals who are interested in a career in this field and can identify with the individuals profiled and their career stories.

What challenges have you faced in your career?

The main personal challenge I have faced in my career has been worrying about how I am perceived by others in the workplace. I had previously remained secretive about my personal life as I worried that it may have a negative impact on my relationships with connections at work.

However, I believe that this was based on my initial interpretation of stereotypes in the STEM sector and did not represent the inclusive nature of those I work with. Being honest about my life allowed me to be my authentic self in the workplace and become more confident in my ability to interact with others, develop my skillset and effectively enhance my career opportunities.

How does the profession need to progress / develop?

Innovation is of particular importance in STEM fields, thus showing the importance of having a diverse group of people in the workplace who can provide different perspectives and ideas that may not have been previously considered.

Traditionally, masculinity and heteronormativity are primary associations made with those working in STEM fields. This can understandably be an intimidating environment for LGBT+ people who may not feel comfortable disclosing their sexuality or their personal lives outside the workplace.

As a result of this, I feel that the progression of the STEM sector would benefit from highlighting LGBT+ involvement in the field and raising the profile of inclusion, so that the existing stereotypes subside.

I believe that #OutinSTEM provides a brilliant platform to show relatable role models in this sector, that, from personal experience, are few and far between.

What one piece of advice would you give to others?

My biggest piece of advice would be to never let stereotypes prevent you from following a career path that you are passionate about. The STEM sector thrives on innovative ideas and the inclusion of those from diverse backgrounds will only benefit the sector in its development. With this mind set, I have been open about my sexuality from the beginning, which has made me more confident in the workplace as I can be myself and not worry about hiding this area of my life.

Finally, I think it is important to set an example to those who may be considering a career in this sector. With this coinciding with LGBT+ history month, it is important to remember what life was like for the LGBT+ community 50 years ago, and to appreciate and celebrate the developments that have taken place since then. This serves as a positive reminder of what is possible in the next 50 years, and what else can be achieved in this time.