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Bringing your whole self to work

Khalil Nasiri (above, centre) is Senior Manager for Ethics in Serco Americas. Khalil joined Serco in 2006, working on our FRTIB (Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board) contract. In 2012, he joined the Divisional Ethics Team. In 2019, Khalil led Serco’s involvement in Capital Pride – the largest Pride festival in the US. In promoting the event among our North American colleagues, he chose to publicly disclose his sexual orientation and perspective on being LGBT+ at Serco. 

Why did you choose to share your sexual orientation openly in the workplace?

Most people can hide being LGBT+, but when a job becomes a career – like it has for me at Serco – everyday interactions can grow into professional and social relationships. I don’t want to hide my life, modify my behaviour and censor my personality in order to conform. I wouldn’t be happy doing that. 

Also, I’ve been fortunate to have role models at Serco who are also LGBT+. I respect and appreciate the trail they’ve blazed, and I want to do the same for new generations of colleagues. 

How have you been supported at Serco? 

My line managers have genuinely cared about me and my career. What I’ve found most valuable here is that I’ve never been labelled or judged on my sexual orientation. 

What makes Serco different? 

Serco has thought very carefully about getting it right. It boils down to innovation – one of our four Values. Innovation is essential in delivering successful solutions for our customers, and Diversity and Inclusion is essential for innovation. Serco recognizes that more voices at the table – all of whom feel empowered to contribute – yields better, more thoughtful, solutions. 

Tell us about Serco’s LGBT+ community in Serco Americas. 

We reflect the community at large: we’re diverse – from different racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds; we’re present at all levels; and there are varying degrees of being ‘out’ – some are out and proud, some prefer strict privacy, others are in transition. 

Describe your experience leading Serco’s participation in Capital Pride 2019. 

It was very emotional and humbling, seeing so many people from Serco make so much effort with so much pride. We had a tremendous presence: lines down the block because our CEO and volunteers were there, whipping up the crowds. It was outstanding. 

What recommendation would you offer to employers? 

I don’t want to be hired because I’m LGBT+, Muslim or Afghan-American. It doesn’t foster an inclusive culture, it undermines the value of Diversity and Inclusion, and it sets me up for failure. I went to law school, I’m not afraid of hard work and I’m good at owning my mistakes. That’s why I’m confident in my career. What’s important is making sure people aren’t denied opportunities because of characteristics beyond their control and irrelevant to the job. 

What recommendation would you offer to colleagues? 

Throughout my career – here and elsewhere – different people have held different opinions about my being LGBT+. In most cases, we’ve worked well together. Some have become friends. Most co-workers are simply looking for someone they can work with to get the job done! You have the right not be harassed or singled out for your sexual orientation or gender identity. This company will appreciate and reward your hard work. So, bring your whole self to work – you are valuable.