AXA story

Cultural Cookbook Volume 7 - Pride Part Two

Billy Arlene Cultural Cookbook 169 NEW

You might remember our Cultural Cookbook from last year featuring Billy Ross. This year, he’s back and he’s brought company! We chatted with Billy and Arlene about life at AXA, Pride and what it takes to create an inclusive culture at work.

Billy: Hi, I’m Billy Ross. I’m an Associate Business Test Analyst and I’ve been at AXA for over two years. 

Arlene: And I’m Arlene Stewart. I’m the Operations Manager for Commercial Direct and this is my 18th year at AXA! Here's our recipe for an inclusive and welcoming workplace.



  • Networks of like-minded people 

  • A welcoming culture 

  • Supportive leaders 

  • Celebrating the present 

  • Continual improvement 



Step 1: Surround yourself with like-minded people 

Arlene: Employee network groups are a fantastic way for people to come together, share experiences and build confidence. I’ve been a member of the AXA Pride Network for over 10 years. I was even lucky enough to complete an enjoyable and successful tenure as Chair of the network, meeting new colleagues and making friends along the way. 

Billy: Being surrounded by like-minded people who all passionately care about LGBTQIA+ issues is so important. I think it's vital to have networks like AXA Pride. The LGBTQIA+ community has come a long way but there is still so much progress to be made. One place everyone should feel safe is their workplace! 

Arlene: Exactly! Networks give an opportunity for colleagues to connect and support each other and they help create a sense of belonging and a more inclusive culture. 


Step 2: Find a company where you can be yourself 

Arlene:  AXA’s culture is welcoming, collaborative and flexible, we’re continually working towards a fully inclusive culture. This is the first company where I’ve felt comfortable to bring 100% of myself to work without fear of it impacting my position or career progression. 

Billy: Yeah, the culture is excellent, especially coming from other workplaces where it didn’t feel as safe to be yourself. It’s like a breath of fresh air! 


Step 3:  Remember where we’ve been and celebrate where we are now 

Billy: Pride Month means many things to me, but to sum it up: it’s being hopeful for the future, celebrating the present and remembering the past. 

Arlene: Absolutely. It’s a time to celebrate and recognise how far we’ve come but also a reminder we need to keep driving for equal rights and recognition. Both personally, and as a leader in the business, I love nothing more than flying the flag for the LGBTQ+ community with my wife and dog in tow. You can’t beat the atmosphere, diversity and feeling of belonging taking part in a Pride parade, especially when the sun is shining! 


Step 4: Keep pushing for equality in the workplace 

Arlene: Other companies can learn a lot from AXA.  It’s important everyone is respected as an individual, can bring their true self at work, with business leaders visibly leading by example. Company policies must support diversity starting at the hiring stage right through to supporting those at the end of their careers.    

Billy: And I think other companies could be better allies, not only LGBTQIA+ people, but for all their employees regardless of who they are. Companies should only ever build their people up, not tear them down! 

Bon appétit!