Gina Battye, a world-renowned, award-winning Psychological Safety and LGBTQ+ Inclusion Consultant and Trainer, has almost 25 years experience working with multinational corporations, TV, Film and the Global Press.
With an early career in education as an FE teacher in the workplace, and having worked with some of the most dangerous ex-offenders in Northern England, Gina has in-depth and direct experience working with physical, mental and psychological safety. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, Gina knows first-hand the unique pressures and challenges that being LGBTQ+ in the workplace can bring. Over the last 12 years, Gina’s work and unique Psychological Safety insights have gained her authority and momentum; with the focus on ensuring everyone in the workplace can bring their whole self to work, therefore creating a psychologically safe environment. Gina is on a mission to create work environments where people thrive; through creating safer, more open, inclusive workplaces where ALL employees feel safe to bring their whole selves to work.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I started my career as a teacher. It wasn’t the traditional teaching career you might expect. I was 22 years old, 4ft 11 inches tall and working with dangerous criminals across West Yorkshire. I was teaching people who had been involved in offences related to; drugs, alcohol, violence, theft and sexual offences.
From the first day, my protection, safety and well-being were taken very seriously by my employer, it had to be – it could have been a matter of life or death.
I vividly remember this being tested to the limit at 6pm on a winter’s night back in 2004. On the walk back to my car after a busy day, I was followed by a very dangerous man. This led to me being stalked for three weeks. I wasn’t able to leave the office without a Probation Officer escorting me. My employers created a work environment where I was physically, mentally and psychologically safe.
Two years later, I moved into teaching adults in the workplace for a college, and what a contrast that was! I didn’t feel safe bringing my ‘whole self’ to work. From the very first day in my new job I felt uncomfortable with my manager. She was a dictator. Controlling. Manipulative. She lied. She abused her power. I watched her bully members of the team out of their roles. I became her next target, where I experienced an intense period of bullying for being gay.
Initially, I didn’t report this as I didn’t want to ‘out’ myself to the leadership team and colleagues.
Over the next year, I kept a log of incidents, alongside evidence. Around 12 months later I decided to report it. But, to my shock, the woman involved was promoted and I was told to not progress the case any further because it would highlight my sexual orientation to colleagues.
This experience is why I started my consultancy, training and media company and why I am so dedicated to creating physically, mentally and psychologically safe workplaces. Now, I am a world-renowned, award-winning Psychological Safety Consultant and Trainer, with nearly 25 years of experience working with multinational corporations, TV, Film and the Global Press.
Represented by the UK’s leading Speakers Bureau, Raise The Bar, I am an award-winning, internationally renowned speaker and have spoken on stages around the world. I was awarded Speaker of the Year in 2015, after delivering powerful speeches and presentations internationally to global organisations and their employees.
Over the last 12 years, my work and unique Psychological Safety insights have gained me authority and momentum; with my work featured in the mainstream press where upwards of 10 million people globally see my inspirational articles and videos each week; I challenge and speak up about inclusion and belonging issues. I am also an advisor for ITV and BBC on LGBT+ related issues.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
When I was younger, no. My career was very organic, following other people’s suggestions and reacting to my experiences along the way. Experiencing homophobic bullying in the workplace defined the rest of my career. Since then, I have become more intentional in actively directing my life, career and the activities I engage in. I have built a business to reflect who I am and what I love!
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
As I have outlined in previous questions, I have experienced many challenges, including dangerous workplaces, toxic leaders and homophobic bullying. That meant for a while I was living small, hiding behind a mask and I wasn’t bringing my ‘whole self’ to work and social situations.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
As a kid, I was terrified of speaking out; at home and at school. Counting was the only way I was able to muster up the courage to get my voice heard. I would count to 3, 5 or 10, pushing myself on the final count to say what I wanted to say. This was a huge barrier for me to overcome.
I started acting when I was 11 years old, to help me overcome this fear I had of speaking out, but unless I was playing a character (which I excelled at), I would often choose to stay quiet throughout my teens and early adulthood.
Now, I am an award-winning speaker, sharing my story, knowledge and expertise on global stages with 1000s of people!
In 2015, I went on to win a Speaker Of The Year Award and as I shared my story of workplace bullying, I was invited to work with more and more multinational corporations, as well as TV, film and the global press.
I have taken the learning from the homophobic bullying I experienced and become a passionate and knowledgeable leading voice in psychological safety and LGBTQ+ personal development and inclusion. I am called upon by world-leading corporations to work with their senior leaders and employees.
Over the last 12 years, my work and unique Psychological Safety insights have gained me authority and momentum; with the focus on ensuring everyone in the workplace can bring their whole self to work, therefore creating a psychologically safe environment.
As an 11 year old, I couldn’t have imagined I would be doing what I am doing now!
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Listening to my intuition.
For many years I believed that everyone knew more than I did. The people around me guided me into my career. They were quick to jump in when things weren’t working out. And they were quick to tell me the ideas I had wouldn’t work.
But then I took a step back and looked at where I was. I was at rock bottom; my health was suffering, I was coming out of an abusive relationship and I hated my work.
This was the turning point for me.
I decided I was going to take my power back.
I listened to my intuition and followed it. It has guided me in every decision since then. If something doesn’t feel right, I pause. I ask myself what doesn’t feel right, and am guided by whatever comes up. There have been many opportunities since I started my own business, where I could have been pulled off course and gone down a totally different route. But I trusted my intuition every step of the way.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
My very first role was in teaching/mentoring. I specialised in mentoring ex-offenders, a disadvantaged client group, into community provisions.
People development is a core theme throughout my career. I am a collaborative leader, providing coaching, mentoring and training for my team.
I invest heavily in my personal and professional development (and encourage others to do so), and over the years have had a wide range of mentors, coaches and advisors. Each individual has had a positive and lasting impact on me and my work.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
I would say “don’t worry about coming out. You will come out many times in your life!”
We get so hung up on coming out, as though it is a one-time thing. That is the reason why many people agonise over the ‘right’ words and the ‘best’ time to come out.
But, you don’t only come out once. I have come out every single day since that first instance – at work, at home, with family, friends, new people I meet, clients, associates, utility providers, hotels, medical care professionals – you name them, I’ve told them.
So don’t worry about it. It doesn’t need to take up all your head space!
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I believe we all have the right to feel safe at work. Recognising that there is no legislation in place to promote and enhance psychological safety in the workplace, I knew that this needed to change and as a change leader and action-taker, I knew I was the one to do it.
I aim to lobby the UK Government to introduce psychological safety into workplace legislation, to bring about worldwide change and protection for employees.
I am on a mission to create work environments where people thrive; through creating safer, more open, inclusive workplaces where ALL employees feel safe to bring their whole selves to work.
To collect the data needed to lobby Government, I have developed a powerful psychological safety diagnostic tool that measures psychological safety in workplaces, with advice from researchers at the University of Cambridge.
Data is being collated from organisations worldwide to build up a picture of the levels of psychological safety in workplaces. Not only does this give me the data I need, but organisations are also understanding for the first time how psychologically safe their organisation is, as assessed by their employees, as well as receiving recommendations to create a safer workplace.
This information will have a HUGE global impact on equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging.
The diagnostic tool directly compliments my full suite of psychological safety services; including the psychological safety change management programme, bespoke e-learning modules focused on the 5 Pillars of Psychological Safety and bringing your whole self to work (designed to be rolled out across entire organisations), live training for senior leaders and employees, and the Psychological Safety Toolkit for leaders and managers.
There is nothing like this out there!
Once I have the data I need, I will be lobbying UK Government to introduce psychological safety into workplace legislation.
After that, I will be working on global workplace legislation!
Rate your workplace!
As part of her on-going research, Gina is encouraging all employees to ‘Rate Their Workplace’ as she continues to gather data on ‘How Psychologically Safe Workplaces Are.’ If you’d like to take part and share your experiences with Gina, she is conducting a global survey. Your answers will remain anonymous. You can take part here.