Suki Sandhu Founder & CEO, Audeliss & IN­volve

Gay Times Magazine - - CULTURE -

How did you come to be in the pub­lic spot­light?

I joined a re­cruit­ment com­pany in 2003, and came out at work, then went on to be­come their top per­former glob­ally out of thou­sands of em­ploy­ees. In 2011, I launched Audeliss, my di­ver­sity-fo­cused ex­ec­u­tive search firm to help level the play­ing field for di­verse ta­lent for ex­ec­u­tive and non-ex­ec­u­tive roles glob­ally. It then went on a bit of a roll – I launched OUT­stand­ing, our LGBTQ ini­tia­tive in 2013 which was ini­tially a list of the Top 50 LGBTQ ex­ec­u­tives glob­ally pub­lished in the Fi­nan­cial Times which reaches mil­lions of peo­ple glob­ally. EM­power and HE­Roes was launched in 2017 to cham­pion eth­nic mi­nori­ties and fe­male ta­lent. This meant we reached even more mil­lions for all the right and pos­i­tive rea­sons. I’ve been lucky enough to meet tons of in­cred­i­bly fan­tas­tic and in­spir­ing peo­ple in this time, and as my or­gan­i­sa­tions have grown, I’ve been asked more and more to speak at var­i­ous events, have won lots of awards and I’m very proud, and lucky to be able to use my plat­form for worth­while causes. I’ve re­cently launched the Suki Sandhu LGBTQI Asia Fund with GiveOut, and been ap­pointed to the board of Out­Right Ac­tion In­ter­na­tional based in NYC which is driv­ing LGBTQ rights glob­ally.

Have you ever faced dis­crim­i­na­tion or ho­mo­pho­bia within your in­dus­try?

I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced some ca­sual ho­mo­pho­bia with col­leagues in my early ca­reer and with clients when they’ve mocked my re­la­tion­ship with my part­ner, but I chal­lenge it and am un­apolo­getic about be­ing me. I’ve the con­fi­dence to do this and many don’t. I’ll al­ways speak up for our com­mu­nity as a Gaysian, and if I can change some­one’s ho­mo­pho­bic, racist or sex­ist view­point, then I hope that helps an­other per­son.

How did your lo­cal com­mu­nity and fam­ily re­act dur­ing your com­ing out?

I don’t know how my fam­ily didn’t know I was gay. Al­though I was a pretty gay kid (my sis­ter and I would dance to Vogue in front of my fam­ily from my Madonna Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion video cas­sette), they had no idea. There was a lot of lay­ers for me to work through when I came out – I’m In­dian, Sikh and from a work­ing class back­ground so there’s a lot in there. When I came out to my mum, she said, ‘but you can still get mar­ried’. There was a lot of tears, she was ac­tu­ally re­ally up­set. She called me a few days later to say, ‘I can get you an ap­point­ment for the doc­tor, they can fix you’. This was 14 years ago, times were quite dif­fer­ent then, but now they are the bišest al­lies and gave a speech at my wed­ding to my hus­band.

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