Each month, one of our colleagues shares their story. This month, to celebrate Pride, Jon Bartlett tells his story.
Hi, I’m Jon. I joined Target seven years ago, starting my journey by leading the Complaints function, before becoming Chief of Staff. For the last couple of years I’ve been Head of Operations and Customer Excellence.
Career-wise, I’ve spent many years in Financial Services, having always had a passion for the customer, enjoying working through ways to give them great service. Outside of work I really love to travel. Under normal circumstances I’ll disappear to as many different places as possible, as often as possible.
I’ve always been close to my family, but the last 12 months has really strengthened my relationships. I’m starting to become less selfish with my time, having realised how fortunate I am to have such great people around me.
I’m a 44 year old openly gay man. It was probably more difficult for me to write my age than declare my sexuality! I don’t have a problematic “coming out” story to share, but I do recognise that I made it difficult for the people closest to me.
I came out to my parents at the age of 18. There was some shock and concern, but no significant drama. Although as well as telling them I was gay, I added that I was leaving home just before my A-level exams, and that I was no longer going to go university to become a doctor. It was all about me and I was selfish.
Throughout my working life, I’ve never experienced any sort of bullying due to my sexuality. There were maybe some jokes that I’ve laughed along with, but nothing that appeared to cause a problem. I’m quite thick-skinned and resilient, so if there was anything, I never took it personally.
I’ve always been able to demonstrate progression in my career, so don’t feel I’ve been held back by anything or anybody other than myself. That selfish side can come out sometimes and be converted into personal determination.
My partner had a very different story, so I know it’s not plain sailing for everybody.
I met Dean 14 years ago. It definitely wasn’t a relationship that was meant to work out. He wasn’t openly gay and had been protecting his family for years. He had two children from his first relationship and, following the tragic death of his brother when he was 18, he took the decision to protect his parents from any more heartache by closing the closet door and locking it firmly shut.
Dean came out to his parents and children at the age of 39 and since then, there’s been no looking back. We got married in September 2014 and celebrated with our closest family. Both our fathers were witnesses to sign the marriage register.
I’m really close to all of his family, particularly my two stepchildren and their partners. I was made up when I received my first Father’s Day card! Also, I got to experience something I never thought possible when our little grandson Harrison was born 15 months ago.
What I’ve learnt…
I look back on my journey and see two very distinct points of view. A young guy that was stubborn, who thought everything was about him and wouldn’t accept opinions or advice from others; and a support network of close family providing unwavering, unconditional love.
I now appreciate that individuals need space and time to work things out for themselves. There’s always opportunity to give advice and guidance, but this needs to be invited to be really appreciated. I have a renewed love and respect for those closest to me, and I’m so pleased I can be there for them and can help out when needed, without expecting anything in return.
Being selfish can be a good thing, when balanced with the needs and feelings of others. But, I do recognise I was lucky that things didn’t backfire on me. Now I use the selfishness as determination and have a personal plan to work to. I’ve always had written goals and milestones as to where I want to get to in the personal stages of my life. I’m currently working towards my goals of where I want to be on my 50th birthday – a very long time away!
Why I’m passionate about Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)
I think D&I is about ensuring there’s a level playing field for everybody. Recognising there are all sorts of different factors that impact on people in different ways. For me, D&I is about supporting individuals to be who they are and helping them be the best they can be.
What I’d like you to take away
Recognise it’s your own journey. Make it the best you can by being determined, supportive of others and not afraid to ask for help when you need it. Be clear where you’re heading and make things happen that are right for you.