Professional life as a gay man was a struggle. But joining Frontier has meant I can finally be 100% me.
I’m Rodrigo. I’m a Capricorn, born on Christmas Day in São Paulo, Brazil. I’m a huge Madonna fan, a great dancer, extremely anxious, adopted, and gay.
I left my home country in 2014 and I miss it every day. But moving to London and joining Frontier in 2019 opened up a whole new professional world for me; one of acceptance, respect and achievement. And I’d like to share my experience to offer hope to those going through the same struggles I went through.
Growing up different
As a child, I was treated as different, including by my family. They’re very religious, and homosexuality, to them, was a sin. And so when I came out in 2005, my life became a mess. My mother stopped talking to me, and my father told me I had destroyed my family.
We have since reached a much better place. I love my parents and I know they were scared for me. But it was an extremely difficult time, especially in living a city where homophobic abuse and attacks seemed worryingly common.
Difficult next steps
Coming out had been a traumatic experience. But I had to live my life. So I got a scholarship to go to college, and then the time came to get a job.
I worked in HR for a few different companies over the following years. Most of them did nothing at all to celebrate or acknowledge the LGTBQ+ community. But at least, I thought initially, no one is being hostile to me.
But as my career went on, I began to notice more and more instances of prejudice at work. I was told I shouldn’t have contact with customers because I was ‘too gay’; I heard of colleagues deliberately avoiding me in the office; and I missed out on a promotion because I was not taken seriously as an employee.
And so I came to a big decision – I would move countries and start again, from scratch.
A leap of faith
I moved to Dublin, where I lived and worked for the next five years. It was the first place in which I’d felt comfortable and safe in my own skin.
At work, I was treated as a human being. But the companies I worked for did little to acknowledge the diverse workforces they had. I would see other organisations actively engaging with their LGBTQ+ employees and the community – but that seemed like another world to me.
So, I then made my next move – a lifelong dream of mine – to London.
I’m here, I’m queer and I’m part of Frontier!
I applied for a role at Frontier Economics. I never dreamt I would get the job. My past traumas warned me that it would be an old-school, male-dominated industry, and I wouldn’t be welcome.
But I had read employee reviews of Frontier and it seemed to be much more progressive than I had imagined. So I was delighted when they contacted me to offer me a role in their people team.
I was even more pleased to find out that Frontier has a group dedicated to diversity and inclusion, as well as another working group, Spectrum, which aims to raise LGBTQ+ visibility and encourages everyone to bring their whole selves to work.
And so, encouraged by these signs of active acceptance, I finally let my walls down at work. I walked into the office each day 100% me. And Frontier immediately embraced me for who I am.
Finally, I felt like a valuable asset. I was a shareholder. I had a voice, and was heard. Being myself was a strength, not a weakness.
Promotions and progression
As part of this supportive environment, I was assigned a mentor – something I’d never had before. It was great to have someone who really invested time in my career and development, encouraging me and pushing me beyond my comfort zone.
With a great manager, a friendly team around me and the freedom to be myself, I thrived. Within a year, I was awarded a promotion – my first ever.
I’m now a learning and development advisor, which involves leading larger projects, like the implementation of Frontier’s Learning Management System. I feel as though my hard work has been recognised and rewarded, and my mistakes have been accepted as part of my learning process.
The start of a new journey
Before I joined Frontier, I had never felt able to be vulnerable at work, to show my weaknesses. Now, being at a company that not only accepts and respects who I am, but also truly supports me, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of professional development.
There have been challenges of late, with the pandemic hitting and the transition to working from home. It’s something I’ve struggled with, but my manager, mentor and team have been there to help me. And Frontier has done a great job in adapting its ways of working.
It’s another reminder of what a special place this is; one that is genuinely focused on its people. Working at Frontier has allowed me the space to be myself, and that has allowed me to learn more about who I am. I’m now on a new journey, and I’m excited about what the future holds.