Pride at Portico: Speaking with Michal Matejovie

To celebrate Pride month this year, we spoke to some of our amazing Portico people about its significance, how we can create a more inclusive environment and some final thoughts on identity and the future. Our first conversation is with the wonderful Michal Matejovie.

Please can you introduce yourself and your role within Portico  

I have been a part of Portico for over a decade, initially joining as a Welcome Host on the PwC contract. From the outset, I was impressed by how the company values its employees, embracing diversity in sexuality, race, and gender. This inclusive culture motivated me to deeply engage and make a significant contribution within the organization.

As the years progressed, my belief in Portico’s vision and its people only strengthened. I now oversee the contract at one of the prestigious Magic Circle law firms, and I am continually inspired by working alongside such like-minded individuals.

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride, to me, represents a vibrant celebration of equality and diversity. Even though this year's festivities may differ, it's still a moving time to reflect on the strides we've made towards progress, consider our future direction, and honour the advancements achieved by all.

At its core, Pride is a tribute to the LGBTQ+ community, signifying both a celebration and a reminder of the ongoing fight for rights and freedoms, both in the UK and globally. It's a time to honour LGBTQ+ history, culture, activism, and personal stories. We march to show our presence and solidarity, both for ourselves and for those who cannot.

Can you tell us about your role in Bespire?  

I'm thrilled to announce my recent joining with Bespire, where I'll be collaborating with an extraordinary group of individuals from Benugo, Portico and Searcys. We have several exciting initiatives planned, and one of our first major events this year is a special Networking Event at the Barbican on Tuesday, 25 June 2024 from 1 pm.

Join us for an enriching afternoon as we dive into key LGBTQIA+ topics and celebrate Pride Month. For those unable to join us in person, the event will be livestreamed and recorded.

What can companies do to make the workplace more inclusive?

  • Enhance physical accessibility by providing gender-neutral restrooms, facilities for disabled employees, and quiet spaces for neurodiverse staff.
  • Foster open communication through multiple feedback channels, including anonymous surveys and a clear complaint resolution process.
  • Promote diversity in recruitment by reassessing job descriptions and sourcing candidates from varied backgrounds.
  • Implement company-wide diversity training to educate employees on cultural sensitivity and the importance of inclusion.
  • Establish employee support networks to build community and support diverse needs. 

Who are some of your role models or inspirations within the LGBTQIA+ community?

For me personally, my belief in inclusivity and diversity has been greatly reinforced since Dr.David Bevens (Head of Learning and Development) became part of our team. He has profoundly helped us understand our individual identities and consistently brings out the best in us. While many might choose a well-known LGBTQIA+ figure as their role model, I see David as an emerging superstar. I'm confident that he will continue to inspire us and make significant contributions.

What does it mean to be a good ally?

  • Educate Yourself and Others: Dive into learning about LGBTQ+ experiences through various media and share your insights with colleagues to promote a learning culture at work.
  • Embrace Imperfections: It’s natural to make mistakes as you learn. Be kind to yourself but also take responsibility and strive to improve.
  • Use Pronouns Publicly: Display your pronouns in your email signature or on virtual platforms. This not only shows support but also makes it comfortable for others to share their pronouns.
  • Understand Workplace Policies: Familiarise yourself with the reporting procedures at your workplace to actively support your LGBTQ+ colleagues against discrimination.
  • Engage Senior Leadership: Encourage leaders in your organization to actively support diversity and inclusion, enhancing the work environment for LGBTQ+ employees.
  • Respect Privacy: Avoid personal questions that may seem intrusive. If necessary, ensure the setting is private and the person is comfortable.
  • Amplify LGBTQ+ Voices: Recognize when to step back and allow LGBTQ+ voices to lead, using your position to support rather than overshadow.

By following these steps, you can foster a more inclusive environment where everyone feels respected and valued.

Can you share any experiences of allyship?  

I've been fortunate throughout my life to have support from individuals who have had a positive impact on me, and I want to share this message with a broader audience. It's important to recognise your privilege and the environment you want to prosper in, and to actively engage in your community. Together, we are more powerful. I have participated in many Pride marches in London and other global cities, including Sydney. These events bring people together, yet it's crucial to remember that they are not just celebrations but also mark the ongoing struggles and battles we must continue to face year after year.

Can you share some ways in which curious individuals can approach conversations about their identity? 

My journey to finding myself was not straightforward. I left the country where I was born to seek safety and acceptance elsewhere. Living in the US, Australia, and the UK, I eventually found a home in London, where I've been for over 17 years. It's here that I connected with a community that helped me become who I am today. While we all face our own personal challenges, I believe there's a like-minded community for everyone. I don't want to sway your preferences, but if you're interested in sports, consider joining LGBTQIA+ sports groups to explore your identity. Alternatively, if podcasts or TED Talks are more your style, seek out groups in those areas. Remember, the world is full of opportunities to discover yourself. 

How do you envision the future for the next generation of LGBTQIA+ individuals?

LGBTQ+ visibility is crucial, whether it's through voting, participating in marches and rallies, or engaging online, and Generation Z is driving significant change. While LGBTQ+ individuals have always been part of society, openly living as one's true self has not always been—and often still isn't—easy. We remain committed to advancing a future where individuals from all generations can live freely and authentically without compromise.