Real change happens when we work together

Kate Nicholroy shares her experience as an LGBTQ parent and highlights the support and allyship she’s found at LBS


Kate Nicholroy joined London Business School nine years ago, and in that time, she’s taken on several different roles. Since her first days as part of the Learning and Development department, Kate has had four other jobs at LBS, worked in three departments, and, most importantly, had two children with her wife Emelda. 

For Kate, being a parent is often a much more prominent part of her identity than being a gay woman. “Sometimes I don’t think about being gay for days,” Kate laughs, “but my parent identity is always on.” Nevertheless, becoming a parent has changed her approach to letting people know about her sexuality. Before, Kate often didn’t feel the need to tell people, in fact it was often easier not to. “I’ve had many conversations with cab drivers about Frank the accountant, my husband,” Kate says, when asked what her partner did. But with children in tow, that’s no longer a possibility, “suddenly, as a parent I’ve had to come out all the time and it can be really nerve-wracking.”

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“The transformation is amazing, I actually felt a little choked up”

This is in part due to the general societal presumption that if a woman has children, there must be a man involved somewhere. As a parent-to-be, Kate first came across this when she was explaining to her colleagues that she was going to be taking ‘paternity’ leave. Several times, there was a certain look she noticed on some of her colleagues’ faces as they did the maths to figure out how that was possible. “By the time my wife had our first child, I assumed everyone knew I was gay,” Kate explains, “but seeing that they didn’t has made me try and be a bit more ‘out’ at work. As a leader who is part of the LGBT community, I think I have a responsibility to be visible to help create a culture where everyone feels able to be themselves at work.”

Both in and out of work Kate is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, heading up the Brighton Rainbow Families organisation and taking an active role in the School’s Proud Network. In this spirit of being visible, Kate was part of a panel last year with LBS’ HR Director, a joint event between the Proud Network and the Parents and Carers’ Network. The idea of this cross section of networks working together was to bring more people to the conversation.

At a recent event to mark Pride month, many of the School’s senior leadership attended in support of the community. “That was unthinkable when I started my career, the transformation is amazing, I actually felt a little choked up,” Kate admits. This level of support only strengthens Kate’s belief that while organisations and individuals have huge power to affect different kinds of change, real evolution happens when we work together.

Kate feels lucky to live in a time and place where she and her wife were able to have a family

Some of the necessary changes Kate believes should be on the horizon include greater take up of shared parental leave, as well as more education around different family set-ups. As a leader of Brighton Rainbow Families, Kate has created book lists for children that discuss these issues. “If they need them, they’ll find them,” Kate says with confidence. 

Meanwhile, in working environments, there is a lot that can be done to educate people about removing the heteronormative assumptions surrounding family planning. “Obviously there was some fertility treatment with our pregnancies,” Kate says, “but one in six straight couples need fertility treatment, so that is potentially a lot of people at LBS going through this.” But this isn’t always considered. Kate gave birth to her and Emelda’s son during the pandemic. And now, having experienced IVF both as someone who has gone through it and the wife of someone who has, she understands there needs to be more than an understanding of the logistics. The emotional toll fertility treatment takes can be huge – there is a role for organisations to connect people so they can support each other. 

But for all the progress that still needs to be made, Kate feels lucky to live in a time and place where she and her wife were able to have a family. It has only been two decades since Section 28 was repealed, and 10 years since gay marriage was legalised. “When your rights have been very recently legislated, you know how fragile they are,” Kate says. Growing up, it seemed impossible that she would be able to marry or have a family. “But now in my daughter’s class, there are two kids with two mums,” Kate says, “and nobody bats an eyelid.” 


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