Andi Maratos is the CEO of Chrysalis (www.chrysalisgim.org.uk), a charity supporting transgender and questioning people, their families and close friends.
Andi kindly allowed Queer Careers to question them about their role working in the charity sector and being ‘out’ at work. Thank you so much Andi.
Here’s what Andi had to say:
Which gender do you identify yourself as? Non-binary or genderqueer
How would you define your sexual identify? Queer
What’s a typical week like in your job?
I run a medium sized charity that operates across two counties, which includes:
Taking responsibility for the operation of the organisation – looking at service delivery, setting benchmarks, monitoring resources and client satisfaction
Finance, procurement and budgeting including writing tenders and negotiating contracts including those for consultancy, training, premises, software
Networking locally and nationally with statutory bodies; other charities; small and large businesses
Safeguarding and handling complaints and disputes
Writing policy and procedure
Development of new support clusters and widening the organisations reach
HR and recruitment of staff and volunteers
Promoting the organisation to potential members (trans, non-binary and questioning people, their families and friends) including attendance at events like Pride and through local and national media
Lots internal and external meetings - bringing people and ideas together and making sure that everything is going in the right direction
Writing a weekly blog, checking social media and writing regular articles about topics of specific impact to gender diverse people, the operation of the service and my own professional development.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love being part of something so much bigger than me, knowing that what I do enables people to change their lives, to find their own authenticity and the strength and tools to understand themselves and achieve their goals
Being the CEO I get to see my dreams, visions and understanding of the wider impacts of our work implemented and make real, positive difference. I can affect my own destiny and in doing so I make things better for people
Networking with so many people of different experiences and abilities continually develops my own understanding of the world, which I then feed back into development of the charity.
What are the biggest challenge in your job?
Asking people for things – I find it hard to ask for donations and specific items of help
Making applications for funding – there’s a need to get all the facts and figures straight and then to make sure that you cover every point in the application in a concise and accurate way. All funding applications are similar but none of them ask for the same information, so you have to continually adapt.
Are you comfortable in sharing your sexuality in your current workplace?
Yes I am out, initially I wasn’t about the polyamorous aspect because I still felt that this was something that people wouldn’t understand but in the end I realised I couldn’t keep quiet about that significant part of my life and at the same time devote my life to authenticity. Being out as queer – both sexually and with my gender identity was much easier, although I am aware that to an extent I have passing privilege
I make no attempt to conceal my sexuality at work so in that sense I am ‘out’ to my colleagues.
Do you think that being part of the LGBTQ+ community has helped, hindered or made no difference to your career?
I wouldn’t be in the role I am had I not come out to myself and then to colleagues through the Staff LGBT+ Network at my last place of work. Attending my first Pride event and discovering in myself the real power of being out, being accepted and being authentic gave me much more confidence and also understanding of myself and others that empowers me in this role.
How do you feel the way you look or present yourself has affected your career?
I’ve never been bullied at work for how I look, although for many years I concealed the inner me. Now I proudly look different, alternative, and whilst I’m aware that this can put a barrier between me and more staid professionals, I’m confident enough in my personality and mission to be able to work through and around those barriers rather than compromising myself through fear of being different.
Did the company’s reputation of working with its LGBTQ+ staff have any impact on your decision to apply to work for them?
Yep – in the sense that I knew by taking on the role I could make the organisation inclusive and accepting towards LGBTQ+ people.
What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this industry?
1. The charity sector is at one and the same more open to diversity and more closed minded. Do your research - speak to volunteers as well as staff about what the internal culture is like and, how well issues around discrimination and banter is dealt with.
2. What support are you offered as a member of staff? Working for a charity is often long hours and plenty of volunteering. Are you respected, do you have a voice? Is there a decent consultation process for volunteers and beneficiaries to feed back into the service? If you’re expected to go out into the community to deliver your services, what happens if you experience homophobic or transphobic abuse? What actions will the charity take? What if it was a member of the public or a service user?
3. Check financial security – charities rarely operate with significant reserves – are you prepared to adapt if the next grant doesn’t come in or it’s awarded for a different project?