Paul Flanigan

Head of Retail Lease Management – PAM National - ISPT

I started working for JLL in 2016, but it wasn’t until two years later that I really understood the measure of the company.

In June 2018, I sat on a panel for a Diversity & Inclusion event, and for the first time I told my colleagues and industry peers my story. I could never have expected their reaction.

I came out as gay late in my life. I’d been married for 20 years in a loving relationship that gave me two wonderful sons, James and Brayden. When I was younger I didn’t know I was gay, but in many circumstances I didn’t feel like I fit in.

I had a moment of truth in 2007 when my father died, and six weeks later, in tragic circumstances, my brother did, too. I realised then that life was too short, and too valuable not to be true to ourselves.

Members of the gay community all have their very personal stories and experiences of coming out. What cannot be underestimated is the anxiety and emotional and mental turmoil that comes with it.

I reset my life and vowed to be my true, authentic self. I was fortunate to have the love and support of my wife and children, but I lost many friendships and family relationships along the way.

In the places I worked at the time, I was fiercely guarded about my personal life. I didn’t feel comfortable in those environments to be myself, I didn’t engage, and as a result I felt isolated. I remember standing in the shower some nights breaking down into tears at the shame I felt for putting my family through so much pain.

But fast forward to 2018, sitting on this Diversity & Inclusion panel at JLL, and sharing my story, I was bowled over by how supportively and positively my colleagues responded.

JLL is a company where I have no reservations about being myself. Yes, it stands for diversity, equity and inclusion, but more importantly, it acts on those values.

In my interactions with colleagues every day I am treated respectfully, and it is possible they could never know how much this motivates me to do my best work.

Research from the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) shows that people who identify as LGBT+ and are ‘out’ at work are more engaged, productive, they think more innovatively, and they are inclined to stay loyal to their company. That’s something I can vouch for.

But it’s not just that. I think we, members of the LGBTI+ community are inherently capable of thinking compassionately, acting courageously, working creatively and living in community.

I hope that by being visible to other JLL team members who do not feel they can be as open about their sexuality as I am, that I am providing them the comfort and encouragement to know that at JLL it is safe for them to do so, and that they will be supported.

I am committed to pushing the agenda for diversity and inclusion. I do this in my capacity as a member of the JLL Australian Pacific region Diversity & Inclusion committee, and also a one of JLL’s Australian Building Pride LGBT+ leaders.

In 2019, I received the JLL Victoria Ovation Award for Diversity & Inclusion. It was a very special moment for me being recognised for my contribution to Pride events at JLL and made me feel accepted and encouraged to bring my whole, authentic self to work every day.

In March 2020, JLL participated in a Pride march in Australia for the first time. It was the 25th anniversary of Pride march, and the best-attended in Australia. More than 40 staff, family and friends took part.

It confirmed for me I work for a company that is committed to shaping a better tomorrow for our people, our communities and our industry. Not just celebrating Pride, but living and breathing it too.

Read Paul’s full story here


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