The world has changed, and the nature of how we work has changed with it. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and employers must not only accommodate, but celebrate that.
- Jak Areesorn, VP of Product Management in London
Working towards diversity in the industry
Based in New York, Charles Westphal is a Sales Director in Preqin’s Global Account Team, and he has worked in the financial services industry for over 25 years. As an open member of Preqin’s LGBTQIA+ community, he finds it incredibly important to offer advice and guidance to all his colleagues.
“Like any significant journey, change in the workplace has been a long process. It takes time to implement meaningful policies and procedures that fill discrimination or bias gaps,” Charles explains. “I’ve lived through some tremendous historic moments that have moved the LGBQTIA+ community closer to equality, but I’ve also witnessed a lot of setbacks.”
Charles feels that the financial world has always been at the forefront of advocating for LGBTQIA+ equality. “The late 2000s saw a lot of organized momentum for equality in the industry. This can be attributed to an increase in overall awareness – coupled with employment protections that gave the LGBTQIA+ community a louder voice for change.”
As Charles sees it, the push toward diversity and inclusion in finance has only increased over the years, with today’s industry leaders recognizing its importance for business. “Diverse companies, boards, and teams are always statistically more successful and productive… so everyone’s input is a part of that equation!”
That isn’t to say that there isn’t always room for improvement. “If I had to pick one area for the industry to improve on, it would be the need to fight DEI complacency in the workplace. Pride Month is not only a time to celebrate how far the LGBTQIA+ community has come, but also a reminder that we still face many hurdles.”
Fatherhood, family, and flexibility
When Jak Areesorn, VP of Product Management in London, married his husband in 2015, they always pictured having a family – and so they decided to adopt. “Although we have friends who opted for surrogacy, that was never an option for us. We knew right away that our child would never be ‘naturally’ ours, and so we wanted to give someone in the Social Services system the chance to grow up in a loving home.”
After almost a year of home visits, onsite training sessions, and thorough assessment processes – Jak and his husband were finally approved to become adopters. After quickly finding a match with their son, they came together as a family in just a few short months. “Although it has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, I haven’t looked back” says Jak. “Four years on, our son has more than settled into his new life, and we are constantly in awe of the confident, intelligent and compassionate little boy he has become.”
While their adoption was a success, returning to work proved to be one of the most difficult challenges in Jak’s journey. As the main carer for their son, his request for a flexible return to the office was met with little support – ultimately forcing him to resign from his role. “Before the pandemic, a flexible and hybrid working model was virtually unheard of. I was genuinely surprised about how difficult it was to go through the recruitment process with an upfront request for flexible arrangements.”
After many months of searching, Jak decided to shift his search to a role in financial technology, which he identified as a pioneer in truly flexible working. Fortunately, his intuition paid off, and after 23 months at another FinTech, Jak joined Preqin in April 2021.
“I was very grateful that my leadership team were extremely understanding and appreciative of my circumstances. They happily acknowledged that my ability to perform as a Product Owner does not change, regardless of when and where I am working.”
With the early challenges of adoption behind him, and the many challenges of parenthood soon to follow, Jak has had time to reflect on his experiences.
“The world has changed, and the nature of how we work has changed with it. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and employers must not only accommodate, but celebrate that.”
Championing equity and inclusion
Pride and diversity are essential foundations on which any high-achieving businesses must be built. Not only that, proper recognition and support from the top down is essential to ensuring that we all live and work in a more inclusive world.
“Preqin is doing a great job facilitating a safe and accepting workplace environment by championing DEI from the top down,” says Charles. “With the means to foster awareness and understanding across the company – matched with internal policies that promote equality and inclusion – we can all bring our authentic selves to work.”
“I always emphasize to the newer members of our teams that it’s extremely important to be yourself so that you can excel at your career. If you’re comfortable and confident in your own skin, and you’re working in a safe environment with people that value you for your skillset, then there are no limits to what you can achieve.”
We are happy to say that this sentiment is shared by others at Preqin. “To work well, I need to be able to relax, and being surrounded by compassionate people is a key part of that,” says Cat Hall, Senior Associate, Editorial at Preqin. “Being able to casually reference my girlfriend at the office has helped me bond with colleagues, avoid anxiety, and get on with my job effectively.”
“We all have a part to play in making society more pleasant. Whether you’re an in-your-face change-maker, or someone who kindly helps other people understand unfamiliar terminology, you’re doing something important," Cat adds.
At Preqin, we are continually working toward an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive. While there is always room to learn and improve, we are proud to support our colleagues with policies that uphold diversity, flexibility, and inclusion.
To learn more about our company and culture, go back to the main Careers page.