News & Insights
Mercury Pride Month | Interview: Rachel Murphy, HR Senior Administrator
Mercury is celebrating Pride Month in June 2020. To mark the occasion, we spoke to our Mercury Pride Coordinator and member of our Diversity & Inclusion committee, Rachel Murphy.
Tell us about yourself and your career
“I joined Mercury in 2018, initially as an agency worker. Prior to working in Mercury, I was a veterinary nurse and vet clinic manager for 11 years. Family life made me go for a change of career. As much as my heart and soul have always been in veterinary, it’s very hard when you have kids between shift work, weekend work and being on-call. If a farmer rings and says his horse is foaling in a field at 3AM, you have to go! I wanted more of a work-life balance and regular office hours, which prompted my change of careers”.
I never knew you worked as a veterinary nurse! That’s really interesting. So how did you end up in HR for Mercury?
“I registered with a local Dublin recruitment agency, and they placed me with Mercury initially as a temp. It went well and I was made permanent after a few months. It was my attention to detail and a lot of the skills I had learned on the veterinary side, such as dealing matters of strict confidentiality and following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that stood to me when I started here. There’s actually a lot of relevance between my work in veterinary to operational HR in terms of streamlining processes etc. It’s definitely helped me get where I am today!”
How has Mercury changed in the last couple of years?
“In the last couple of years, Mercury has changed massively. The company itself in 2018, not just in the HR team, has become a lot more forward thinking and positive about change over the last two years. You can see it in how Mercury has handled things through Covid-19, or the changes in HR, such as the introduction of the HR Business Partner model last year. It’s all very positive. It just shows how much we can adapt to new situations. It’s one of the biggest positives of working for Eoin and the senior management team. They adapted during the recession, and now they’re adapting again during this ‘new norm’, getting us through this challenging period”.
Would it be fair to say, generally speaking, that construction, compared with some other industries, has been slower to get on board with programmes in Diversity & Inclusion and Pride?
“100%, but things are changing. The stance of companies is changing, because of generational change. The older generations, including the likes of my nana and grandad, would have been brought up a certain way. The beliefs that they hold would be innate, as taught to them by their parents. Attitudes to race, LGBT issues, even change in general can be so different! My nana has said about the Coronavirus, “What’s the issue sure, we survived TB!” (laughing). That generation has learned a lot from the younger generation.
“My nana has definitely come around to understanding LGBT issues having me in the family, as well as my uncle (her son), who’s also gay. People across the board are becoming much more accepting of these things now. They’re seeing real-life experiences. My nana has a great-granddaughter, but one who’s got two mammies. Companies like Mercury are now increasingly getting on board as it’s being seen as a completely normal thing.
“Construction, if you compared it with say the tech industry, would have a lot of older employees, so I think it’s part of this generational change. But you’re really seeing them all embracing it now, and I think very often it’s down to what’s happening in people’s personal lives more so than anything else”.
I think, nobody wants to be against LGBT rights because everyone has someone – a niece or nephew or whoever, who is an LGBT person. You can’t say no to LGBT rights when you have an LGBT person directly in your life.
“Yeah, I think that’s what it is! I really think it’s that generational turn. I mean, look at the generation younger than me. I’m turning 32 this year. The people now who are in their teens and their early twenties are so open about it, and so proud of it – not that I was ever hidden about it! But the new generation doesn’t take crap from anyone when it comes to this stuff.
Every generation gets better than the last.
“Absolutely, and I think it’s partly down to the work that we did in the background. We were fairly open about it. A few friends of mine, who are a few years older than me, would have had more of a hard time getting their parents to accept them, and I’m not talking an awful lot in terms of age difference here.
What is Pride about?
“Pride is about your family. The way I look at Pride is, regardless of all the magic, the glitter, the fabulousness, the dressing-up, the parades, everyone being out together – Pride, for us, is very much a family thing. I mean both what I call my extended family – my friends who are LGBT and my non-LGBT friends who are allies and have supported us; and of course, my immediate family – my partner Cheri and our daughter Thalyah. Pride originated from the riots and the equality movement. It was needed, and it is still needed, because there are still stigmas today, so I’m delighted that it still happens every year. But I think the focus has shifted towards people thinking ‘this is a normal thing”.
Do you go out and celebrate pride every year?
“Yes, absolutely. We’ve gone in every year for as far as I can remember. Thalyah only went for the first-time last year. With the huge crowds, having a little one there can test my anxiety! I’ve been with Cheri, my partner in crime and better half for eight years at the end of this month, and we look forward to it every year”.
Pride is very different this year with Covid-19. What’s happening this year in June?
“It’s all gone virtual. I follow a million pages on Instagram and Facebook. I’m seeing a lot of stuff online that we haven’t had before. A lot of the queens that would normally perform in The George [Dublin’s most famous LGBTQ nightclub], who would normally do stand-up or cabaret shows etc. are now getting involved on a community basis. They’ve shifted their focus this year, out of necessity.
“Global Pride takes place on the last Saturday of the month. There’ll be a virtual parade. On the Sunday, there’ll be a lot of community activities. People are getting their neighbourhoods involved – there’ll be dancing out in the fields and stuff! There’s nothing that I’m aware of on where we live, but we’ll sit at home and live stream the parade as a family”.