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shifting the conversation

Celebrate diversity month: Shifting the conversation with Philip Stanley

Philip shares his I&D “aha moment” and the ways it inspired him to take action.

At Sabre, we are committed to embracing and celebrating our diversity. In this inclusion & engagement series, Shifting the Conversation, our people share their stories to engage in open dialog and shed light on their broad, rich and unique perspectives. In celebration of Celebrate Diversity Month, Philip Stanley, inclusion & diversity ambassador in APAC, shares his I&D “aha moment” and the ways it inspired him to take action.

I’m the eldest of three children born in Leeds, UK, to parents who had emigrated from the Caribbean a few years earlier. My parents made a conscious decision to raise a family that blended into their surroundings and did nothing to stand out. This was not easy when, back then, around two percent of the UK population was black. We were invariably the only black children in the area I lived in, the schools I attended and the university I graduated from. I got used to feeling like I didn’t fit in.

Then, at 18, I got the opportunity to live and work in Jamaica for a year. I was excited to live somewhere I thought I would fit in. After all, it’s where my mum was born! To my surprise, I found I didn’t fit in there either. It turns out an English accent makes you stand out in Jamaica just as much as being black in Leeds. Standing out was my normal, and I believed I was largely untouched, unaffected and immune from bias racism – apart from a few minor incidents.

This all changed on May 25th, 2020, the day of George Floyd’s tragic death – a day that marked a significant moment in our society’s awareness of racial injustice. The events of May 25th deeply affected me and sparked important conversations around the world.

In the weeks following, a good friend asked me about my experience growing up and living as a black man in the UK and Australia. I didn’t know how to respond because I’d never given it much thought. This led me to talk to my family about our upbringing. Together, we discussed unconscious bias, racism, white privilege and microaggressions.

This process led me to do something I’d never done before – take action. I wrote an email to Sabre’s Global Talent Management leadership asking what we could do to demonstrate to our teams and customers that we fully support the Black Lives Matter movement. This was the first time I had ever put my hand up to get involved in anything at work that put a spotlight on the fact that I was different and wanted to feel included.

A year later, I was leading the team in APAC that manages our internal inclusion and diversity site, ensuring team members had insight into all of the local I&D initiatives taking place. It was around this time that Tracy Goyne, director of Inclusion & Engagement, joined Sabre. Through many conversations and meetings over time, she empowered me to get involved with Sabre’s World Day for Cultural Diversity celebration, as well as run over 40 Unconscious Bias sessions and become the I&D Ambassador in APAC. I also had the honour of receiving the APAC’s Best Male Ally award from the Women’s Career Network inclusion group in March of 2024.

As I reflect on my journey, it is undeniable that May 25th, 2020 propelled me towards my I&D “aha moment.” It led me to understand that inclusion isn’t about other people and their identities, but about me and my behaviours. I am driven to make a difference and ensure that everyone around me is able and proud to bring their whole selves to Sabre.

Sabre is shifting the conversation with stories from passionate and bold inclusion group members. At the heart of our inclusion & engagement efforts, our eight inclusion groups, and counting, aim to amplify the voices of our team members and create a sense of belonging for all. Together, we celebrate diversity, applaud individuality and embrace unique perspectives to empower our global team members to bring their true selves to work every day. Learn more about our inclusion & engagement mission.

about the author

As an ambassador for inclusion and diversity in APAC, Philip Stanley is shifting the needle forward as we embrace and celebrate our diversity and foster an inclusive culture at Sabre.

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