"The lioness, the witch and the closet" by Michele Edwards

"The lioness, the witch and the closet" by Michele Edwards, Resourcing Adviser

"The lioness, the witch and the closet" by Michele Edwards

Resourcing Adviser

“I’ve been working for Grant Thornton for almost eight years. I’ve held many different roles, from client take on to the business services group. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a lifelong condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord. With this condition, I have to go to the hospital every four to five weeks, which can be disruptive at work. However, I’ve never felt that this disability has kept me from growing my career. I’ve always felt included and supported with my disability and sexuality by my colleagues and the wider business. I’ve been able to be very open from the start about who I am and who I love. This is extremely important to me, as with previous employers I did not have this. I’d like to leave behind a positive legacy. I really love making people happy and laugh, even if that means smiling at a stranger in the street who may be having a bad day and feeling insignificant. If my smile can turn their frown upside down and make them feel noticed, then I am happy.”

Chapter 1: Welcome to my life

Hi, my name is Michele. I am in a wonderful relationship with my fiancée, Helen. She’s my rock. She keeps me sane, makes me feel loved, even when I am being a pain, and always makes sure that I slow down when I need to. We live in a lovely house with our two dogs, Poppy and Ned. Poppy is a Jack Russell and very temperamental, don’t know where she gets it from. Ned is the most laid-back dog ever.

I’ve been working for Grant Thornton for almost eight years. I’ve held many different roles, from client take on to the business services group. Now I work in our recruitment team and I have never looked back.

Chapter 2: Giving 100% no matter how small

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a lifelong condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord. With this condition, I have to go to the hospital every four to five weeks, which can be disruptive at work. However, I’ve never felt that this disability has kept me from growing my career. I’ve always felt supported by my colleagues and manager to take care of my disability when I need to. There have been times when I relapse and just generally don’t feel well. Grant Thornton has provided me with flexibly and support over the years to look after my own health.

When I was younger, I competed in gymnastics. During those years I was taught that you must give 100% in everything – no matter how small something may seem. My mum always taught me that if you think positive, then a grey day can turn quickly into a rainbow. This is what I try to do every day. However, some days are not easy. Years ago I went through a tough break up after a long-term relationship. We were saving up to buy a dream house. I didn’t think I was going to be able to start again after we broke up. However, I remembered back to my mum’s advice and, after some soul searching, I started saving for a deposit. In 2017, I finally did something I’ve always wanted to do – buy my first house! I remember the first time I put the keys in my own front door, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

'I’d like to leave behind a positive legacy. I really love making people happy and laugh, even if that means smiling at a stranger in the street who may be having a bad day and feeling insignificant.'

Chapter 3: Inclusion is key

If I wasn’t working for an inclusive employer, then I would find it very difficult to do my job to the best of my ability.

I’ve always felt included and supported with my sexuality by my colleagues and the wider business. I’ve been able to be very open from the start about who I am and who I love. This is extremely important to me, as with previous employers I did not have this. In previous environments I’ve felt extremely excluded and segregated from the business and colleagues. This type of culture made me extremely uncomfortable in the workplace. It is a testament to Grant Thornton as a company in how they have enabled me to trust my managers and colleagues again with “coming out” at work.

I’d like to leave behind a positive legacy. I really love making people happy and laugh, even if that means smiling at a stranger in the street who may be having a bad day and feeling insignificant. If my smile can turn their frown upside down and make them feel noticed, then I am happy. I don’t believe it’s the words you say that people remember, but how they feel. So I’d like people to remember me as someone who made them feel happy.

Michele's story is part of our 'Stories of our diverse workforce' where we've asked our people to open up and share their own personal story. To read more stories, follow the link below