Pride Q+A Session with Oliver Hiner, Director of Operations at Portico

21 June 2023

As part of our series of Q&As that we’re holding throughout June for Pride Month, we sat down with Oliver Hiner, Director of Operations at Portico to discuss what Pride is to him, its significance today, and how we can create a more progressive workplace. In this Q&A, Oliver shared his views on the importance of visibility, and how we can all work together to create a more welcoming and accepting environment for everyone.

Can you give us a little bit of background about you, what you do and how long you have worked for Portico?

I have been with WSH for 15 years this August. My journey started with one of our sister brands BaxterStorey, where I worked in client-location roles across law and banking client locations. For the past eight years I have been with Portico and for the majority of this I have been part of our support and leadership team. My role sees me supporting our Operations Managers and site-based teams, as well as our support functions and being part of our leadership team developing the strategy for the business as a whole.

As a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, what has your experience been in Portico?

I would like to think anyone who works with or knows of Portico would describe us as an inclusive place to work. We have a very diverse employee workforce which helps us embrace all kinds of differences. I believe Portico provides a platform where people can be their genuine authentic selves, and flourish at work.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Pride is an important movement and a chance to celebrate LGBTQIA+ communities. In the UK, the LGBTQIA+ community is widely accepted and sits on a level playing field with the rest of society.

However, the journey has not even started in so many other counties and territories. I really enjoy travelling however having to consider where to go because of views (and laws) on LGBTQIA+ is always a consideration. Some countries are just a no-go on the whole if you want to be yourself as a gay man and this is very sad.

There are still huge amounts of work to do, and this will take years and generations. The Pride movement is a big part of helping change this.

Can you share 3 ways in which curious individuals can approach conversations about LGBTQIA+ topics that are welcome?

Asking questions can be daunting, especially if it’s an area you have limited knowledge in!

My advice would be to set the scene, no one wants to be ambushed – explain your curiosity. Make sure you are in an appropriate location – who is around you in the immediate vicinity, is it a place where you would feel happy answering personal questions? Treat knowledge with confidentiality. If someone takes the time to open up to you, it doesn’t mean they want everyone else to know!

In your view, what does it mean to be a good ally?

Have a genuine interest to start with. Take the time to understand. It’s not all about big gestures, sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference!

What can companies do to make the workplace more inclusive?

It starts from the top; leadership must set positive expectations and boundaries. This in turn will create the parameters for which everyone can contribute to the culture. Everyone within an organisation is part of this, it cannot be led by one person or group.

It is important that everyone feels heard, and different mediums may be needed to speak to different parts of the workforce i.e., some people may really enjoy joining a networking group whereas others would rather communicate through an office survey or suggestion box. Everyone should be given the opportunity to be heard and feel included.