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Interview: The social network

Having only launched a few months ago, the LGBT Admin and Assistant Network has gone from strength to strength as it aims to create an inclusive platform for the LGBT community to share and socialise. Jade Burke catches up with co-founders Adam Maxted and Craig Harris.

Why did you choose to set up the LGBT Admin and Assistant Network?
Adam Maxted (AM): We felt that there wasn’t a network that spoke directly to us as members of the LGBT community.

Craig Harris (CH): We wanted to create a space for people from the community who work in similar roles to share knowledge, learn new skills but also be able to share the struggles we all face.

Why was it important to you to acknowledge those who identify and support the LGBT community within the PA market?
AM: We noticed there was a need for the network. Within the administrative professions there are many different roles, and this is filled with a huge diversity of people. Although there are other amazing networks out there, I felt it would be nice for all members of the LGBT community and supporters to have a platform to talk about any topics they want to in a safe environment.

CH: What people may not understand is you face completely different obstacles in the workplace as someone from the LGBT community, something that others like you will only understand. The reason we are focussing on the administration and assistant profession is because I have experienced discrimination as an assistant, so I expect others have too.
lgbt

Have you struggled to find a platform that does support the community?
CH: I definitely feel like I have. There are lots of social groups but nothing that speaks to me as an assistant. Our mission isn’t just for people to make friends; we want to educate and help assistants with their careers as well.

AM: Most networks I have had the privilege of being a part of have always been welcoming. It’s just as a male, let alone a gay male in the profession, you feel a little overwhelmed as it’s a predominately female occupation. But as we all know that is changing, and I know there are many people in the LGBT community working in these professions.

How has the launch been for you guys?
CH: It’s mad, but we’ve only been up and running less than two months. The reception from the industry and the community has been amazing. It’s a great feeling to know so many people are interested and supportive.

What are your aims for the LGBT community within the PA space?
CH: For me personally, I want to help others feel empowered in the workplace and feel comfortable to be themselves. If someone needs help setting up a diversity policy or internal network, I want us to be able to support them in doing so by offering advice.

AM: For me it is to create a voice and have every administrative professional within the LGBT community understand they should be welcomed everywhere, to make it so they will not be judged and if they are, then show them they can speak up.

What does the future hold for the LGBT Admin and Assistant Network?
AM: We are very excited for this as we have great things planned already. I’d love to say more but this is for members only, so keep an eye on us, or better yet join at lgbt-admin-and-assistant.com.

About the co-founders:
Adam maxtedAdam Maxted Currently works as the regional business manager for Pitman Training. He has previously been a PA to an MD of an international manufacturing company, a sales administration assistant, and front of house/ reception staff for a five-star hotel chain.

Craig harrisCraig Harris is an EA, currently working at Shelter, a National homeless and housing charity based in the UK. He has been working as an assistant for the past seven years and has previously worked as a customer service manager and trainer.