5 Questions with OFA COO Ken Terado- Sydney University Law Society LGBTIQ Workplace Inclusion panel event

On April 18, Out for Australia's COO  and Clayton Utz Lawyer Ken Terado spoke at Sydney University Law Society's LGBTIQ Workplace Inclusion panel event. We caught up with Ken today to discuss the highlights of the night and the importance of ongoing LGBTIQ support and events University student bodies can provide. 

Q.1 What led you to participate in the panel event? Why do you think its important for student groups to have LGBTIQ specific events? 

I was invited to participate as Clayton Utz was the sponsor firm of this event.  I thought it was a great opportunity for myself and my colleague, Gabby, to share our experiences and how inclusion for LGBTIQ people has improved in the law over time, and to share what law (and in particular what Clayton Utz) is doing for LGBTI inclusion, especially post marriage equality.

It's important for student groups to have these sorts of events because we know far too many students go back into the closet when they start working due to fear and anxiety.  Also, its important to show that LGBTIQ workplace inclusion doesn't just apply to the "stereotypical" lawyer (being white, sandstone uni and male), with Gabby being able to speak from her experiences as a woman and having recently moved to Australia and myself, coming from an Asian migrant family, not fitting that stereotype.

Q.2 What was the most pressing issue raised? What were students most interested to know about or get advice on being LGBTIQ in the legal industry? 

I don't think there was any particular issue that was "particularly pressing" as such.  The students were, unsurprisingly, forward looking and were most interested in knowing what they can do to make sure that they feel included in the workplace.  There was a lot of interest (both from the panel and the students) about the importance of mentoring and having a good network of friends and colleagues to whom you can turn to. 

Q.3 After being in the legal industry for 3 years, what do you wish you knew about being LGBTIQ in the workplace when you graduated? 

I wish I knew that it was quite a supportive environment.  While I was out at work from day 1, there was a certain sense of  trepidation as to whether I was putting myself out there a bit too much.  Knowing that there was a support network, whether formal or informal, and that there were role models to look up to would have given me more comfort.

Q.4 What was the most surprising question of the night? Why?

By far, the question that surprised me the most was whether being LGBTIQ in the workplace was an advantage.  I had not really thought about it in those terms, but on reflection, I think it is fair to say that it is, in that you have an opportunity to be involved in things that are not just "purely work", and you get  to interact with other people (including, in my case, senior partners) that you would not otherwise have the chance to do so. 


Q. 5 I'm sure many students welcomed the opportunity to hear you speak, but  what did you learn from the questions that were asked?


I think that there was a certain amount of confidence in the room that people going into the law can be comfortable with who they are at work.  It seems that students are far more confident in themselves (or perhaps that's a reflection on me being a bit more shy at uni!). 

Q.6 For those of us that are LGBTIQ and already in the workforce, would you recommend participating in similar panels?

There's no surprise that my answer to this question is a big Yes!  The reason why I say this, though, is that people like us who are already in the workplace have an obligation to those who are just starting out to share what our journeys were like, if there were any difficulties we encountered, and to share any tips and tricks we might have.  It's about making it easier for the next group of LGBTIQ students, and in turn the ones after that, too.