A senior planner at Balfour Beatty was last week awarded the Corporate Rising Star award in a major event recognising Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) campaigners.
Christina Riley, who has worked at the the UK’s largest construction company for the last four years, was one of three shortlisted finalists in that category from the construction industry.
Others who scooped prizes at the annual British LGBT Awards ceremony on Friday night, which celebrates individuals and organisations working to advance the rights of gay and transgender people, included US TV personality Caitlyn Jenner, Fifth Harmony singer Lauren Jauregui and diver Tom Daley.
Riley said of receiving the award: “To be recognised by winning the Corporate Rising Star award is the peak of my career after 24 years in the construction industry.
“As a transgender woman, I spent 20 years wanting to come out. Balfour Beatty gave me that opportunity through the launch of their LGBT Network in 2014.
“For me it has been an emotional experience as for so long being transgender had been kept hidden from friends, family and my employer. Balfour Beatty LGBT Network changed my life.
“And the awards have made me proud for Balfour Beatty, construction, and for my daughters and parents, family and friends.”
Riley has worked tirelessly to change attitudes in the sector. She has been co-chair of the LGBT Network at Balfour Beatty for the last two and half years with Rose Donaghey and runs the LGBT Construct network on Twitter and is Balfour Beatty’s representative for the Off Site LGBT network for construction and infrastructure.
Riley says: “I decided to transition in the workplace, and my office has been so supportive in my transition. Now two and half years on, being transgender is not an issue any more, it is about doing your job, and that is a great place to be after hiding my gender identity for over 20 years.”
Esther McDermott, a senior associate in the construction and engineering disputes team at law firm Dentons, was also shortlisted in the same category. She is co-chair of Dentons’ LGBT network, GLOW, which promotes understanding of LGBT issues and provides support and mentoring opportunities to LGBT staff. She is also a founding committee member of the Law Society’s LGBT division.
Also recognised for his work was Gary Coetzee, human resources business partner
and chair of the LGBT Construction Working Group. He was previously the co-chair of the Lendlease LGBT Employee Group which was founded in 2014 and is a former committee member of Off-Site Network.
As a former Stonewall Role Model and Diversity Role Model, he remains a personal advocator for both organisations. He is a strong supporter of LGBT Sport on twitter, promoting clubs and increased participation.