International Women’s Day: How women in tech are inspiring inclusion

Diversity and Inclusivity series: Creating Inclusive Workplace

In today’s ever-evolving professional world, creating an inclusive and supportive work environment has become an essential goal for companies. Recognising the importance of diversity and inclusivity, we had the privilege of sitting down with Kat Pagdin, the People and Talent Manager of our company, for an enlightening conversation about their personal journey and experiences as an LGBTQ+ individual in the workplace. Join us as we delve into Kat’s journey to inclusivity, gaining invaluable insights and inspiration along the way.

“I am married with a 2-year-old daughter called Sunnie, to see how far we have come as a community in the UK, especially over the past 20 years is remarkable. However, there is still a long way to go. I would hope that we today, are paving a positive road for future generations, it will be wrong of us all to slow down fighting for rights when our past generations have given their lives so we can have what we have today. I was able to ask my wife to marry me knowing it was finally legal for me to do so. I am on my daughter’s birth certificate, which was a hassle-free process which I never thought I would see the day. I have the same rights as any parent now and that is the most amazing feeling.”

The smallest of wins make the biggest impact.


Q: Can you tell me a bit about your background and journey in terms of discovering and embracing your LGBTQ+ identity?

A: Where do I even start…well I was born! 😊 In all seriousness I didn’t embrace who I was until my early twenties, I was in my teens in the 90s and living a pretty secluded life away from ‘town’ life, so I was never really introduced to a different way of living. I knew I was ‘different’ You have to understand, being gay in the 80/90s was never an easy era to be in, yes, we had the likes of Bowie, Madonna, George Michael and Elton John paving the way for future generations, but it was highly looked down upon back then. It wasn’t until I started working at GNER in 2001 that the penny finally dropped. I was working in a call centre, only 100meters away from the gay scene and most nights we ended up in those bars, and I thought ‘ohhhhh that’s who I am, that makes sense to me’ once I started embracing who I was I found a new sense of freedom. All the doubts I had in the past, the insecurities I felt suddenly became less as I started to choose myself instead of choosing a life that was not mine. It was not an easy journey at all, I lost friends, but gained more, I lost family members but gained my purpose.

Q: Can you share a bit about your personal journey and experiences as an LGBTQ+ individual in the workplace, highlighting key milestones and challenges you faced along the way?

A: I believe I have been very lucky in the companies I have worked with in the past and present, I haven’t really faced any difficult situations that have made me really uncomfortable. There was a time where I was nervous to out myself to fellow colleagues when first starting a new role, so I never really discussed my private life until I felt comfortable to do so, I am strong judge of character so I can know quickly if someone will be uncomfortable or awkward with me. Back then I was likely making sure others weren’t uncomfortable, but this did backfire and more times than I care to admit and made myself uncomfortable.

Q: What strategies or initiatives do you think companies can implement to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ employees?

A: I am a strong believer in advocacy, to have champions within a business to promote diversity, support, and mental health. Social media is at the forefront of any business. I think more companies need to promote this all year round not just in the Pride months, or Mental Health awareness week for example. Ultimately this will create a safe space for colleague to feel like they can be open, and comfortable with who they are. You never know who is struggling, so if one act/post/speech can help an individual make it to their next day, then I think this is imperative to continue.

Q: As the person who is involved in People and Talent, you play a crucial role in shaping the company culture. How has your own journey as an LGBTQ+ individual influenced your approach to fostering an inclusive workplace environment?

A: When I first came out, there was no real support from your managers or the companies I worked for. Not like there is now. I only really felt comfortable talking to my colleagues I associated with, or within the LGBTQ+ community at work, we felt like a small group of people hiding away at times. Today, in the role I am lucky to have, I urge supporters to come forward and speak up, they could be parents, sisters, brothers or cousins of someone that is struggling with their own sexuality, why should people that are LGBTQ+ be the only influencers. I urge everyone from all walks of like to foster a health, and accepting work environment.

Q: How do you continue to champion diversity and inclusion in your role? What ongoing efforts are you engaged in to create an inclusive environment?

A: I am currently looking into having certified Mental Health first aiders within the company, I think this is such an important time where we are ‘still’ continuing to fight for our rights, either that be diversity or inclusion. If we can create at least one environment for someone to feel safe and that be the place they will be spending most of their time then I think this can be such a positive step moving forward.

Q: Is there a specific message or piece of advice you would like to share with other LGBTQ+ individuals who may be navigating their own journeys in the workplace?

A: Find your tribe, be true to yourself, times will be hard but ultimately once you embrace who you are, nothing should be able to stop you from your happiness. Once you are at this place, all walks of life will be easier, work, home or personal.


People and Talent Manager
Infotel UK Consulting