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Meet the WTW Global Employee Experience Business Leader

Meet the WTW Global Employee Experience Business Leader

 July 18, 2022

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WTW is committed to creating an inclusive work environment where everyone is heard, respected and valued for who they are.

As WTW's Global Employee Experience Business Leader and LGBT+ Inclusion Network sponsor, Suzanne McAndrew is able to combine her two big passions: improving the employee experience, alongside helping colleagues to be their authentic selves at work, especially senior leaders who may not be out yet.

Suzanne shares her experiences with myGwork, the business community for LGBT+ professionals, students, inclusive employers and anyone who believes in workplace equality, and discusses the reasons why she encourages authenticity at work.

Passion for improving the employee experience for all

"My mission at WTW is to make a difference. If I can make a difference to your day, whether you’re sitting in Riyadh, Tokyo, Shanghai, San Francisco or London, then I want to do that. There are millions of workers out there showing up for work and not having the best employee experience. They might be worried about a loved one, dealing with financial insecurity, stress, managing childcare, having difficult conversations with a leader, or just unhappy with what they are doing,” says Suzanne.

WTW Suzanne McAndrew improving employee experience

Suzanne is passionate about helping staff to be their authentic selves at work. It was a discriminatory incident shortly after coming out at work that propelled Suzanne to be her authentic self and share her coming out story to encourage others to do the same. During the early part of her HR career back in the nineties, she was worried about coming out at work because most industries were quite conservative, she comments. “So I was in the closet for the first year and a half, which was really hard. I often spoke about Christine, my partner, in the third person and avoided being invited to after-hours events.”

However, she did keep a picture of Christine on her desk in the hope that someone would ask about her, but they didn’t. “Then, when we were engaged to be married, I was grateful for that one person who did ask about the ring they had noticed on my finger,” recalls Suzanne.

“That incident allowed me to open up at work, which was both empowering and beautiful. Most of my colleagues were happy for us. They even threw us a baby shower when our son was born,” she says.

WTW Suzanne McAndrew  LGBTQ+ leaders

Deciding to be her authentic self

WTW Suzanne McAndrew  LGBT+ Inclusion Network

Things were going well until, one day, when the team were celebrating winning a piece of new business, the client manager pulled her into a room and advised her to not share her “lifestyle” with the new client.

“I had an emotional reaction to her not wanting me to be out with this client. So I pushed back with, ‘What do you mean by my lifestyle?’ I felt that my whole world was just ripped from under my feet because I just didn’t expect this kind of discrimination and I didn’t know how to handle it. I was very angry about it, so I escalated it,” recalls Suzanne.

However, the leaders she had escalated the matter to did not know how to respond. “That’s because back then there weren’t policies like there are now,” shares Suzanne.

“But they listened and eventually they did intervene. From that moment I decided to be my authentic self, regardless of what others thought about me or my ‘lifestyle’,” she comments.

Supporting LGBTQ+ colleagues

WTW Suzanne McAndrew encouraging colleagues to be authentic selves at work

Suzanne has shared both her workplace and family coming out stories through the WTW’s LGBT+ Inclusion Network. Through the Inclusion Network, she launched an initiative to share rainbow family stories virtually, be it an employee’s or family member’s coming out experience and any accompanying challenges.

Suzanne’s role as the company’s LGBTQ+ network sponsor, is a growth opportunity to learn more about the global LGBTQ+ challenges in the workplace.

“During Pride last year, we brought LGBTQ+ visibility to the global stage by launching Passport to Pride. These global webinars shed light on specific challenges faced by our LGBT+ colleagues from all around the world, and enabled allies to be more active in helping colleagues bring their whole selves to work,” she says.

Creating an inclusive culture where leaders feel safe

Another priority for Suzanne building a leadership pipeline of LGBTQ+ leaders.

To get the visibility for LGBTQ+ employees, we need leadership at the top to feel comfortable enough to be out too. That means ensuring staff feel safe enough to self-ID and have systems in place to support that,” comments Suzanne.

Suzanne looks forward to going even further as the takes on an expanded role as Chair of the WTW Inclusion & Diversity Council. Her focus is to help create an inclusive culture that will help leaders feel safe enough to come out without the fear of discrimination that she faced early on in her career.

Suzanne admits that coming out probably did hold her back from getting other promotions and opportunities, especially in the early part of her career. But not anymore.

“That’s down to owning my story, sharing it and empowering others to do the same. There’s power in being you,” concludes Suzanne.

As an out Senior Leader and role model, she’s encouraging other leaders to do the same and reap the benefits of living a more authentic life, both at work and home.

Read the article in full and learn more about Suzanne's passion for improving employee experience for all and encouraging colleagues to be their authentic selves at work.

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