Suncorp people "wear it purple" for LGBTQIA+ youth
Suncorp's Manager for Diversity & Inclusion Catherina Behan experienced bullying as a teenager because of who she loved. Now, she's built a career around ensuring everyone can feel safe to be who they are.
At Suncorp, we believe everybody has the right to feel proud of who they are.
We know our people will be at their best when we are as diverse, talented and passionate as the communities we serve.
That's why today Suncorp people are wearing purple and fundraising to show solidarity for our rainbow youth as part of Wear it Purple Day – a day to celebrate and support the LGBTQIA+ youth community.
As Suncorp's Manager for Diversity & Inclusion, Catherina Behan is a fierce advocate for ensuring Suncorp people feel included, valued and connected regardless of gender, marital or family status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disabilities, ethnicity, religious beliefs, cultural background, socio-economic background, perspective and experience.
As she tells, her experience as a teenager has made her acutely aware of the challenges faced by young people and determined to build her career around creating safe and inclusive environments.
"It was my second last year of high school, I was 15, and I was in love. That all-consuming, ignore the world, no one has ever felt like this before, first-love kind of love. We started out as friends; our group was inseparable. Soon it was just the two of us eating lunch together and I started getting surprise little gifts and notes in my locker.
Sound familiar? Everything was perfect, until it wasn’t. You see, my best-friend-turned-first-love was another girl in my same-sex Catholic high school, in rural Ireland.
Instead of spending my final year in high school studying for exams and drafting university applications, I spent them trapped in a blur of verbal and physical harassment. My locker was always vandalised with one slur or another, books were thrown at me in the halls, I was spat on in the school yard, and some teachers even ignored me in class or refused to mark my assignments. There was no adult to turn to and no mechanism of complaint. I learned to defend myself.
I guess it was inevitable for me to seek out a career like Diversity & Inclusion, to defend those who can’t and to lift the voices of those who aren’t heard. My experience as a young teenager led me to grassroots activism and community-based work, but not everyone who experiences discrimination finds a chosen family or a place to be accepted and celebrated.
My story may seem extreme or lost to one time and place, but this kind of discrimination still happens today.
66% of LGBTQIA+ youth in Australia still experience bullying based on their identity; 81% of LGBTQIA+ students believe their school doesn’t support them and that their teachers aren’t doing enough to stop LGBTQIA+ based bullying.
It’s no surprise then that only 32% of LGBTQIA+ adults feel safe enough to be completely out at work.
Why do I Wear it Purple? That’s easy. I wear it purple for every kid who can’t. I wear it purple for every primary and high school student who is bullied every day because they’re ‘so gay’. I wear it purple for every adult who has to play the pronoun game at work for fear of sabotaging their own career. And I wear it purple for anyone who is full of worry because someone they love is queer or trans – I wear it to show them that we make it and we make something wonderful for ourselves."
Created by our people, for our people, Suncorp’s employee resource group, Amplify, exists to support our people with diverse orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristics, and their allies.