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Walking together towards our true selves

Feeling comfortable to be your true self is a core part of feeling included, supported and productive at work

Last updated: 17 May 2023


Many LGBTQ+ people keep a part of themselves hidden, because they don’t feel psychologically or physically safe to bring their authentic selves to work each day.

And that’s understandable – our Everyday Respect report showed that LGBTQ+ staff experience significantly elevated rates of bias, bullying, sexual harassment and racism at work.

But it’s also unacceptable. We have a responsibility to create a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace, and we are working as a business to better understand, prevent and respond to harmful behaviours across our global operations.

Disha, a Mindsets and Behaviours Coach with our Safe Production System team, shared her experience of coming out at work and home.

Supporting everyone being their true self at work

Globally, 83% of those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual keep their orientation hidden from all or most of the people in their lives. 83% – that's a high number.

I understand it. I’ve felt a lot of fear in my life.

For a long time, I’d kept my identity hidden from my family, friends and colleagues. We create lots of fears and stories in our heads, of the worst possible ways that the people we’re closest to will react to us finally showing them our true selves. I had this fear that I might lose them, and I would have nobody around me. I had a fear of judgement. But most of all, I was struggling to accept myself. My first battle was with myself. To accept me for who I am.

Sharing my journey with my colleagues was the best decision I ever made. Four years ago, I shared my story at the launch of Rio Tinto’s Thrive network – a visible network of LGBTQ+ staff and allies. I was nervous and anxious, beyond the usual public speaking jitters. I felt like I’d been hiding a part of myself, and now it would be out in the open. What if they didn’t accept me?

I’m so glad I shared my story with my team and wider colleagues. I feel it has helped each of us. As allies they understand that they have a role to play and we can chat about more freely now as there was some element of my life I wasn’t bringing fully to work, that I was holding back from them. Now, I’ve got a much bigger support network, and I can connect with my colleagues and peers at a deeper level than I ever had previously. Plus, being my full self just makes work fun.

Only a few months ago, I came out to my mother. It was one of the hardest things I have done in my life. Until that conversation, I had been introducing my partner as my flatmate, and now, they have the dignity of being seen and appreciated the way they deserve.

I genuinely thought I would lose my mother by telling her. But her reaction was the opposite of my worst fears. I realised that my whole life, it felt like she was walking in front, and I was behind. Now, I feel we are walking together.

Finally, I feel like my complete self, at work and at home. Life has only become more beautiful since coming out, and all my relationships have become so much more intimate.

I feel free. I feel liberated. I feel I have wider support from my colleagues. By being able to bring my true self to work, my authentic self, and celebrating my full self, I’m able to contribute to environments where people and Rio Tinto can blossom.

I’m sharing my story here because I hope to inspire others.

To anyone who's fearful or timid about coming out – I’m living proof that it's doable.

Anything is possible.

If you or anyone you know needs help, free and confidential support is available – visit to find a service near you.

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