“Although we’ve made a lot of progress, there’s still a long way to go”
BY DYLAN MANN-HAZELL
Shelley Kerr, a member of S&P Global’s Commodity Insights Division, spoke to myGwork about how her career intersects with her passion for diversity and inclusion. Discussing her LGBTQIA journey and her personal and professional development throughout her years in the commodities industry, she explained why there is still a long way to go before true, authentic equality is achieved.
Growing up in South London in the 1980s with her mum and two sisters, Shelley lived in a time when homophobia, racism, and misogyny were rampant and normalized. While experiencing this every day from a young age, she also started to have an inkling she was gay herself. She initially believed it was just a phase she would outgrow, but when she still felt the same way by early adulthood, she decided to accept and fully embrace her identity.
“I knew I was different from quite an early age,” she said. “I’d read one of my dad’s psychology books when I was about 12 and at the time it posited that adolescents go through some kind of homosexual phase that they eventually grow out of. So, I went through my adolescence thinking ‘this is just a phase, I’m going to grow out of it’, until I got to the age of 19 and understood it wasn’t a phase.”
Working in the commodities industry since leaving university, Shelley has spent the past 20 years working in various roles, including leadership positions. Recently, she has shifted her career towards a more commercial direction, with a focus on product management and bringing products to market. While she enjoys the commercial aspect, she misses the connection with people that came with the previous role. She revealed her ambitions to gear her next role towards more leadership-based activities, remaining passionate about helping others excel in their jobs through mentoring and support.
Years into her career, Shelley met at work the woman who would become her wife. Despite changing roles and moving to different companies, it seemed they were destined to be together as they ended up working alongside each other on three different occasions, purely down to coincidence. They now have two children and both enjoy a loving and vibrant family life together.
Much like her personal development and self-reflection, Shelley’s career has been characterised by constant growth and learning. She takes pride in her ability to adapt and evolve, which is why she has thrived in her role at S&P Global, which offers constant evolution and challenges. Moreover, beyond her personal accomplishments, she derives pride from helping develop other people’s careers and finding success in their lives.
“I think of my career as more as a journey,” she explained. “What I’m most proud of myself for is that I’m constantly evolving, constantly learning, and I never stay in the same actual role for more than two and a half years before I’m ready to move on to something else. I think that’s why I’ve always enjoyed my job at S&P because it’s constantly evolving. Beyond myself, I’m proud of how I’ve helped other people in developing and succeeding in their own careers.”
S&P Global is committed to inclusivity and creating a safe space for LGBTQIA employees. The company continuously evaluates and updates policies to ensure inclusivity and actively encourages employee participation in resource groups.
Shelley is especially proud to be a part of S&P Global’s Pride People Resource Group, a global network supporting LGBTQIA communities and allies with chapters all over the world. Although the network has faced challenges, particularly throughout the pandemic, it has recently become more visible and active, with an increase in membership and numerous events taking place.
While immense progress has been made in recent years, Shelley recognised that there is always still work to be done for LGBTQIA equality. Looking at society as a whole, she referred to multiple instances of family estrangement and encounters with institutions that reflect outdated perspectives, inspiring her to remain committed to driving further progress and creating a truly equal society.
“I still have friends whose parents don’t talk to them because they’re gay,” she elaborated. “I went to a wedding a few weeks ago, and the registrar of two women getting married pronounced them husband and wife. When I registered my child’s birth, the woman didn’t know how to fill out the form if both parents were female. Although we’ve made a lot of progress, there’s still a long way to go.”
Shelley Kerr’s journey embodies the positive changes taking place in the landscape of LGBTQIA inclusivity. She has not only achieved personal success but also contributed to fostering an inclusive environment within S&P Global. With her passion for leadership and commitment to mentorship, Shelley continues to help pave the way for a brighter future for LGBTQIA individuals in the corporate world and beyond.
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