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Open to create a better future

Our Head of Contracting, June Carmichael, joined Berkshire Healthcare in 2010. She says: “I came here initially for four months and during that time the Chief Executive asked if I would consider taking on the contracting role as a Berkshire Healthcare employee.” She has been head of the contracting department since 2011 and she is also a governor for the Trust.

Openly gay, June is concerned to create an environment where people are respected for who they are.  She says: “Context and language is very important. It’s about the pronouns people use.  Not making assumptions, such as assuming that I have a partner who is male. Having a network focused on LBGTQ+ issues helps to break down the myths and to create an environment where people are treated equitably, fairly and respectfully.  I don’t have the same challenges now that I had when I was a teenager, but I’m sure that there are young people now who are facing the challenges that I did when I was younger. We think that we have moved on, same sex people can now get married, but things haven’t moved on to the extent that we no longer need to have identified characteristics.  The world we live in hasn’t changed as much as it needs to.”

She continues: “I have been openly gay throughout my time working for Berkshire Healthcare and I have been treated respectfully throughout this period.  I have never felt uncomfortable.  I’ve never been treated with any kind of difference. What is important to me is the difference that we are making to the population that we serve.  I believe that how we treat people should be part of our overall healthcare strategy. I suspect that in the older generation there may be people who are gay and lesbian who are feeling isolated, because they come from a generation that was less open than mine.  I am concerned that they get the support that they need.  That’s an area where I think there are still questions that haven’t been answered yet and I’m interested to learn if there is more that we can do.”

“Being a role model and comfortable to say you are gay is important.  I think it’s important to lay the foundations for those to come. I’m 60 and I feel that if I’m not prepared to be open at this stage in my life, how can I expect the world we live in to change in a positive way? At this stage in my life I don’t really care what people think, whereas younger people might.”

“I came out in the workplace in my 20s and I can honestly say that I have never experience any teasing. But I think it is true that people are probably less fearful the older that they get. I think you need to take a stand for what you believe in.  The world we live in will only change if we stop trying to hide behind something.  The world may not change that much during my lifetime but I hope that a time will come when we never have to talk about LBGTQ+ people. That people are just people with differences that we embrace.  That’s where I want to get to and I can’t contribute to achieving that if I’m not open.”