Mira Kraleva-Greener, Customer Service Team Leader at Rapport, speaks to Alim Kheraj from myGwork about growing up in Bulgaria, moving to the UK to find an accepting community, and how an inclusive workplace has helped her embrace her identity
BY MYGWORK, IMAGES BY MIRA KRALEVA-GREENER
Mira relocated to the UK from Bulgaria in 2014. “When I came, I started, as you can imagine, in hospitality,” she says over Zoom. “I started from the bottom, working as a housemaid for two years in a hotel. I then got promoted to a supervisor and then to a position called Office and Rooms Controller, again in the housekeeping department. It gave me an overview of the business and how things were run. I was working closely with different departments and communicating tasks, last-minute changes and requests on a minute-by-minute basis.”
After years of working in hospitality, Mira wanted to broaden her horizons. Scouting out other opportunities, she found a job at Rapport as Business Centre Coordinator, which was similar to what she was already doing. Over three years later, she is now a Customer Service Team Leader working with one of Rapport’s clients. “Rapport is appointed to provide customer service for them,” Mira says of her role. “We provide professional customer services making sure that our team is fully capable to provide the elevated services agreed with our clients. We are here to provide working solutions, anticipate needs and exceed clients’ expectations.” As a team leader, Mira manages a team of 14 people, ensuring that everyone is up to their tasks while providing support and encouraging development. “I’m making sure everyone is happy where they are and contribute to the business in their own unique way,” she adds.
Mira made the move from Bulgaria to London for a number of reasons. As a lesbian, she says that while metropolitan areas of Bulgaria are more accepting towards LGBTQI people, she never felt that the place she grew up in was as open-minded. “I never felt discriminated against or felt that anyone was against me refusing to accept my values or me as a person in terms of my sexuality, to be honest. But I was never openly a lesbian there,” she says. “Only select people who I trusted, like my best friends and the people who I worked closely with, knew about my sexuality.”
When she moved to the UK, Mira was in a long-term relationship, and she had a personal goal to have children. “However, as the time passed, I realised that the person I was with was not heading the same direction as me”, she says, and after six years in the UK, Mira broke up with her girlfriend during the pandemic. “I said to myself, ‘Do I see myself in this relationship for another 12 years?’ The answer was no. So, I did what I needed to do for both our sake.”
After six months of breaking up with her ex-partner, however, she reconnected with someone she had met in 2018 at an international lesbian meet-up party, which she had, ironically, attended with her ex-girlfriend. At the party, Mira and her girlfriend spent hours talking to a woman named Tamaryn. “Afterwards, I Googled her and then totally forgot about her after, like, two days, being focused on my current relationship,” Mira laughs.
Following her breakup, Mira decided to reach out to Tamaryn over Facebook. It was in the middle of the pandemic, and they found themselves talking for hours at a time. “We would have dates for nine to twelve hours, which is just something that you can’t imagine when people were all working and busy pursuing their own professional goals,” Mira gushes. “Lockdown was kind to both of us, and we had a great time getting to know each other and spending lots of time with each other. When we weren’t spending time in person, we actually spoke over the phone. But thanks to all the time we had on our hands thanks to lockdown, we were drawn very closely to one another, finding common values to build our life together.”
In 2021, Mira and Tamaryn got married. “Things didn’t happen as I expected them to after moving from Bulgaria to London,” Mira says, “but it’s worked out for the better. My wife is everything I have ever wished for, and she didn’t make me say that”.
There were some hiccups after their marriage, however. In Bulgaria, same-sex marriage is not legal, which provided an obstacle when Mira wanted to get her name changed on her British passport. “It turned out that in order to do that, I had to provide my Bulgarian passport with the changed name already,” she says. “That was impossible because I can’t have that in Bulgaria; it is illegal to be married to a person of the same gender. They said, ‘Okay, you can provide us with either a passport with your changed name or a letter from an authority back in Bulgaria saying why you can’t have your name changed on your passport.’”
Mira, understandably, was reluctant to contact authorities in Bulgaria. “What I did instead,” she continues, “was put together a letter myself saying, ‘Look, I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to anybody in Bulgaria to confirm why I can’t change my name and why my marriage is not recognised there.’ I also included an extract of the legislation that explained that while you can have a civil partnership, there are no rights behind it and that you can’t be married. They didn’t question that, which I very much appreciate.”
After Mira shared the news that she had gotten married on Rapport’s internal communications site, she was overwhelmed by the support of her colleagues. As a founding member of the company’s LGBTQI Committee, Mira says that Rapport’s inclusive atmosphere helped her feel accepted. “In my blog post, I wrote that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it hadn’t been for Rapports’ inclusive culture and my colleagues being so cool about it,” she says. “The way that Rapport made me feel actually helped me appreciate myself. I had never had that kind of support in my life before. Seeing all those people say, ‘You are amazing’ and ‘You are who you are, and we love you for that’ was beyond everything. I still feel like being embraced by Rapport was one of the best things that has ever happened to me work-wise. I can’t be more grateful for that.”
Having that support, has meant that Mira feels empowered to bring her whole authentic self to work. “No matter who you are or what you do, you should be able to bring who you are, with all the vibrancy and colour that brings, to work,” she says. “It makes a real difference. I’ve felt in the past that not being completely honest about who I am, has stopped me from interacting with certain people. But I am now supported by both my client and Rapport. There’s nothing more I can wish for. I am exactly where I wanted to be my entire life: living my dream.”
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