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By Marlene Mey, Account Manager, Top Employers
By Marlene Mey, Account Manager, Top Employers

Celebrating Pride: Five Ways Employers can be Authentic, Intentional, and Purposeful



Fifty years after the first Pride event in the UK, discrimination against the LGBT+ community at work persists. Top Employers Institute’s Marlene Mey looks at how the UK’s Top Employers are now moving to eradicate it completely.

Pride month in June is now well established, with this year also marking the 50th anniversary of the very first Pride event in the UK. Yet this celebration of diversity and people’s right to live how they choose without discrimination is not practised nearly as well as it is preached, including in the workplace. Research from the CIPD has found that LGBT+ employees are still nearly twice as likely to experience conflict and harassment at work as other colleagues.

It is reassuring that certified Top Employers in the UK are performing as strongly in their deeds, as in their words. Nearly seven in ten (69%) have established a LGBT+ network to foster inclusivity. So how are they enabling these networks to make a real difference? Fortunately, we have plenty of great examples to choose from. Here are five ways to convert good intentions into action.

1. Create a safe environment for colleagues from the LGBT+ community

Top Employer Ageas UK, which provides car, home, and pet insurance, has established a LGBT+ Colleague Resource Group to encourage conversations within this community and promote awareness across the business. Driven by its employees, the network provides support for members and, crucially, creates a safe environment to celebrate openness both inside and outside of their place of work, as well as educating others in the business.

During Pride month, it encourages all employees to get involved and take part in its “Wear your stripes with Pride” competition, in which they are invited to dress in the colourful Pride stripes and share their picture internally for a chance to win a prize. This has not only proved a huge success, but is also a great way to raise awareness among all employees.

2. Integrate Employee Resource Groups with business strategy

Top Employer Pfizer is best known for its biopharmaceuticals, yet it is also highly innovative around its attitudes to inclusion. The “Out Pfizer Employee Network” (OPEN) is a global colleague resource group for Pfizer's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender colleagues and their allies. Its purpose is to integrate best-in-class diversity and inclusion principles and practices into the company's overall business strategy.

OPEN organizes its initiatives and events around three key strategies:

  • Building an inclusive culture within the company.
  • Providing LGBT+ and ally perspectives that will advance Pfizer's business.
  • Improving Pfizer's Brand externally.

An important role of OPEN is to raise awareness amongst all colleagues of the issues faced by the LGBT community, whether this requires revisions to local policy, practical action or informed debate. It works throughout the year to demystify LGBT language, explain pronouns, encourage dialogue and promote self-learning.

3. Get out and about (by train)

UK Top Employer, East Midlands Railway (EMR) has been marking Pride month itself with exciting innovations, such as one of its trains being wrapped in a Pride livery and running trains on routes to support the month’s events and the people travelling to them.

EMR’s Stronger Together community is one of several new employee networks within the company. It represents the LGBT+ community within the business and has already achieved a lot, such as a rolling out pronoun badges alongside its new uniform, and explanatory video on pronouns.

The community has a network lead dedicated to looking at specific policies and procedures (inclusive speaking being one of several examples) and how each can be improved. The network is also looking to have “out and about” sessions in the coming months where the lead sets up in key locations to address issues, concerns or provide information to all employees.

4. Align with the wider D&I strategy

UK Top Employer Pladis is responsible for household brands, such as, McVitie’s, Jacob’s and Mini Cheddars. The business has been growing its LGBT+ network and in particularly aligning this closely to its wider D&I team strategy, “Being Me.” The business started its “BeingProud” network in early 2021, with members of the community and allies from across its offices and manufacturing sites coming together to support, learn and have fun together. 

The business had its first Pride celebrations last year, where it launched its network more widely by sharing key educational materials, running over 20 “Introduction to LGBT+” sessions for approx. 450 day and night shift staff (including leadership teams), making sites visually LGBT+ friendly with flags, stickers, posters and liveries of lorries, and running panel talks with external speakers such as Stonewall.

5. Leverage social networks to accelerate knowledge

UK Top Employer CHEP is the global leader in sustainably moving goods, partnering with customers to optimise supply chains throughout the world. During Pride month, it has been utilising its company Yammer network to show how far LGBT+ rights have come – and how far they still have to go.

For example, it posted findings from Stonewall's latest “LGBT in Britain - Work Report” to shine a light on the discrimination which members of the LGBT+ community continue to face in the workplace. This has acted as a catalyst to all colleagues to strive to work harder to create an inclusive environment within which all colleagues feel comfortable bringing their true selves to work.

Pride Month gives enlightened businesses the chance to show others how actions always speak louder than words. This has to be the best way to open up opportunities for diverse talent to shine through, not just for one month but over the whole year, every year.