Humans of Humanity: Mark Traves
Mark Traves, Head of Partnerships for Humanity Health Group, discusses the importance of working with an employer whose values of inclusion and diversity align with his own personal values.
Mark spoke to us as part of our Humans of Humanity: World Pride conversation.
I’m Mark Traves, I’m the Head of Partnerships for Humanity Health Group. I started as a Partnerships Manager with Care Squared, our NDIS brand. As a Partnerships Manager, I supported our clinicians and our team to ensure that we were delivering great customer experiences each time and that we were really supporting our participants.
How does Humanity Health Group support you to be your true self?
I think since day one, I walked in the door and felt welcome and that I was able to be my authentic self because HHG looks at diversity and inclusion, not about raising one group against the other, but ensuring that everyone in the business and all our clients have a seat at the table. That everyone is given the same level of dignity and respect. To me, that’s what’s important about being a part of this organisation.
I have a lot of friends who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, where they’re not able to bring their authentic selves to work because there may be some homophobia, or they don’t feel comfortable. They spend a lot of time self-editing. They need to refer to their partner in a gender-neutral way and avoid using names. That can be really exhausting!
One of the great things about HHG, I can come in and anyone in our organisation can proudly be who they are from the minute they walk in the door. And they are actively supported to do that. That’s a huge point of difference that I really love about our business.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in regional NSW which was a wonderful lifestyle and a wonderful way to grow up. I come from a Catholic family, we were churchgoers. I’m lucky that I come from a very understanding and forward focussed family.
My biggest challenge was that growing up, there was no one like me. There were no role models for me. The only time you would see someone who identified as gay on any mainstream media was as a villain. So, there were no positive associations with being gay.
Having said that though, I do have a wonderful family who always accepted me for me. I was never sporty, I was never masculine, I never fit that mainstream expectation of a countryman, but my family didn’t care. They let me be who I was, which made it easier when I started to understand how different I was and that I was same-sex attracted.
For me, coming out to my family was more of a confirmation than anything else. They always knew that I was different, being gay was something else about me that made me different. It didn’t make me any less special. It didn’t make me any less loved.
I was one of the lucky ones.
I have a responsibility to ensure the messaging is out there for people: you are not alone. There are other people like you in similar situations and it’s ok to reach out to find help if you’re not sure. Look at those avenues that are out there. You’re part of a really diverse community who are there to support you.
I’m fortunate to have grown up in Australia and many of us are where we’ve seen strides in equality and diversity. A real change in attitudes towards people and minority groups. One of the things that's important to remember though, and it can be lost a little bit, is that the freedoms and liberties we have today to love the people we love and to be who we are have come because of the work of the people before us. We are standing on the shoulders of our predecessors.
It’s important we remember that there are still other people around the world who are struggling. There are countries, developed nations, where people have been free to be who they were, and they’ve taken that step backward. Trans rights in certain countries have been reduced over the last few years, which is terrible!
The onus is on our generation to remember that the fight is not over. Equality is still something we need to fight for around the world.
World Pride is a great symbol of how far we’ve come but it’s a reminder that the fact we need an event like this, shows that we’re not quite there yet as a society.
The other thing to consider is that I’m fortunate because I live in Sydney, I can be a part of the World Pride celebrations but there are people who live in regional communities in Australia who still don’t have that sense of freedom.
Seeing World Pride take place in Australia will remind them that they are not alone, and it will help to bring their communities forward as well.
This is a really good time for us to reflect on what the next steps look like for us, where we need to move and how can we support those who are less fortunate than us to gain those freedoms that we have.
At Humanity Health Group, we spend a lot of time internally working with our clinical and customer-facing teams to give them the tools to work compassionately and empathically with clients who identify as LBTQIA+ so that we can ensure their individual needs are met.
From an external perspective, we’re an organisation that works with a number of businesses around Australia. We work within the disability and employment sectors. Supporting disability and employment service providers with educational training packages for their participants.
Back2Work work with WISE Employment on a program they’ve developed for people of the LGBTQIA+ community to help them reach their employment goals. The program looks at it from the community angle, so it’s very specialised and person centred.
Me&Work works with organisations to build their internal culture. They have an incredible speaker series. One speaker series theme is focused on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias in the workplace. So, looking at your organisation and how people feel when they interact with you. Do you have LGBTQIA+ employees or clients who feel comfortable being who they are? And, if not, how you can get to that space which is part of your organisation’s DNA.
For more information on Back2Work or Me&Work’s programs, follow the links below.