DWS Pride Month Profile – Dave Benton, Partner and Chief Human Resources Officer

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As DW Simpson’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Dave oversees all aspects of the company’s HR management, including industry processes, policies, and operations. Outside the office, Dave enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with his husband and their child. Dave currently serves as DW Simpson’s representative on the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA) Corporate Advisory Council.

How do you (and your family) celebrate Pride month?

It has changed over the years. My husband and I have enjoyed participating in the Chicago Pride events in our neighborhood, especially attending the Parade. After we adopted our child, we still tried to attend the parade if we were in town. We are lucky to live a ½ block off the route and it makes it easy for a family to come and go as needed. Our child’s school is also very involved during pride month even having representation of teachers, students and parents walking in the parade route.

 

Was there a moment when you came out to your co-workers? Did you feel accepted and supported?

I came out to my co-workers by bringing my first boyfriend to a work gathering. I didn’t have to say much, and they knew. This was the late 90’s so everything wasn’t done exactly right. However, the support was there, and I felt it.

 

Were there times when you felt being a member of the LGBTQ+ community negatively affected your career progress?

I have been very fortunate in my experience. I came out after I had been working at DWS for a few years. Everyone was very supportive which made it easier for me as I was going through the process with friends and family.

 

How do you handle awkward work situations? Any advice you would give your younger self?

I would just say to be your authentic self. While I was open with my own company, I was not always open with the industry that I served. It made some client and candidate relationships less effective than I think they could have been, had I been more open.

 

How do you think things in the workplace have changed for the LGBTQ+ community since you started your career?

In my experience things have only gotten better. There have been ups and downs but each corporation that I have worked for has always shown support in one way or another. When I worked for larger companies, they had Employee Resource Groups that I participated in, as well as many LGBTQ + focused initiatives.

 

In your role as a Partner at DWS, how do you encourage a culture of acceptance?

It has been a journey, but we have been able to introduce a DEI focused committee and partnerships with other industry organizations like the IABA, OLA and SAAGA. Given the small size of the organization it is very important that everyone share in the acceptance of a diverse workforce.

 

Do you have any thoughts on how companies can be more inclusive and better serve the LGBTQ+ community?

Share the openness to an inclusive culture through social media and in your recruiting efforts. Share your internal experiences so that others know that the organization could be a great place to have a career.

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