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LGBT+ employee and allies programmes – sharing best practice – 7th November 2019

In Bracknell at 3M, UK, we was delighted to host a seminar on how to develop successful LGBT+ employee and allies programmes on 3M Global Inclusion Day, 7 November 2019. The session was organised by Support U and included speakers from 3M, Procter & Gamble, Thames Water, Reading University and Royal Mail.   

The speakers shared best practices and where their organisations are with their LGBT+  Diversity and Inclusion journey; some are just starting, while others like Procter and Gamble have a 25-year history. The event was designed to help employers share best practice and ideas to help others create and grow diversity programmes. 

Tina Monk, Diversity and Inclusion Champion, North Europe, who spoke at the event, said: “It was an honour to host this and very interesting to hear what other organisations are doing; we can all benchmark and learn.

 “There were some common themes from all of the speakers that go beyond just ticking a box, namely: support from senior management; a culture of respect; the belief that people should be able to go to work and be themselves; that unacceptable behaviour will be called out; and a diverse workforce is good for employee engagement and ultimately business. 

“It is early days for us, but we have a great foundation on which to build through our Employee Experience programme, commitment from senior leaders and Diversity and Inclusion reps in each country. We are going to scale up activities and build a plan for 2020.”

Here’s a round-up of some of the things other organisations are doing: 

Thames Water has a large LGBT+ network with roles allocated for areas such as mentoring, fundraising, a manager’s toolkit, Stonewall submission and organising Pride events. Reverse mentoring also takes place, where LGBT+ employees pair up with managers to share their experience. 

The University of Reading has an LGBT+ allies programme and has introduced initiatives such as pronoun badges and making the ‘No Bystander’ pledge – committing to never being a bystander to hateful language and abuse.  It is a Stonewall Diversity Champion and assesses itself in the Stonewall workplace equality index, where it ranks in the top 100.  

Royal Mail Group embraces Diversity and Inclusion and has several programmes in place such as ‘Delivery with Pride’ and rainbow post boxes.  In 2015, 15 employees took part in Leicester Pride; in 2019 this had risen to 17 Pride events involving more than 500 employees and two Pride branded carnival vehicles. It is now launching an allies programme.  

Procter & Gamble has a long-established GABLE (Gay, Ally, Bisexual, Lesbian Employee) forum. It has run many campaigns including films with CNN and celebrates Diversity and Inclusion with Diva awards. Fairy was also the first product brand to promote LGBT+, rebranding ‘Fairy’ to ‘Fair’ to encourage open and positive discussion.

Lorna McArdle, Chief Executive Officer of Support U thanked 3M for hosting the event: “Bringing together such high profile organisations to share best practice is a first for us. Thank you to all of our speakers and to 3M for hosting us at its outstanding facility in Bracknell. People must be able to be their authentic selves at work and not feel they have to hide their life outside of work. People need to feel included, whatever their sexual orientation, race or religion. For employers this means happier employees and better integrated teams. The risk of not doing it is losing valuable, knowledgeable people.” 

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