The New York Stonewall riots in June 1969 were the catalyst that spearheaded the global movement towards LGBTQI+ equality. To remember that pivotal event, to celebrate the successes so far and to mark how much further society has to go for complete equality, June is now firmly established as LGBT Pride Month – particularly in America and Europe. There are pride parades in many cities, seminars, conferences, film festivals and an over-all reflection on how far society has come in half a century. But what does pride mean today after more than 50 years of striving for equality? And what can workplaces do to ensure that all their employees are proud to be themselves in the office?
For Emma Salkild, a Copywriter in the digital team at Vodafone, pride is all about creating an environment that allows people to be proud of who they are.
“Pride is about the LGBTQI+ community and their allies coming together to make sure everyone has the same human rights. It’s also about fostering a safe and open society where people can be their authentic selves, in whatever way feels comfortable to them. And the rainbows are fun too,” said Emma. Lisa Whelan, a regional operations manager, echoes these sentiments and places her focus on acceptance.
“Pride to me is being enabled to feel 100 per cent myself, unapologetically. It’s about being embraced and accepted; as well as accepting all others regardless of sexual orientation. I’m proud to work alongside many different people from all walks of life inside of a company that actively promotes inclusion & belonging,” Lisa said.
It’s no coincidence that the word “pride” has been used to encompass everything that’s positive about inclusivity and diversity – especially in the LGBTQI+ community. Pride is more than just casual acceptance or tolerance; it’s an affirmation that everyone has the right to be proud of who they are and to have no hesitation in presenting their authentic selves regardless of the situation – whether that be at home, in the office, in a store or on the street. It’s also incumbent on society to create a culture that openly encourages diversity and inclusion, and gives people a platform to be proud of who they are. Kristy Kelly is the Head of Culture, Senior Leadership, Belonging and Inclusion at TPG Telecom.
Working across all the TPG Telecom brands, including Vodafone, it’s the aim of the Inclusion and Belonging team to ensure that everyone is completely comfortable being themselves at work.
“My team are determined to ensure that the culture at TPG Telecom encourages everyone to be proud of who they are, but we know each of us has a role to play in making our workplace inclusive for all. Together with the Connect Network for our LGBTQI+ community, we’ve taken meaningful steps to not only say that we’re an inclusive culture but we’ve also taken visible steps to demonstrate our commitment,” said Kristy.
Emma reiterates these sentiments. “I’m proud to work for Vodafone because it’s a company that openly celebrates and supports inclusion and belonging. The team behind the internal LGBTQI+ network, Connect, work hard behind the scenes to make sure we can bring our whole selves to work. I was proud to learn Vodafone also offers charity leave so that we can volunteer at an LGTBTQI+ organisation so we can give back to the community,” said Emma.
When you walk into the Vodafone office, you’ll see our teams wearing a lanyard that features the rainbow flag. We also regularly post content on our internal social networking platform, Workplace, and our internal screens feature messaging around equality.
Vodafone has sponsored the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for the past four years with a float in the parade and a stall at Fair Day. We’ve also participated in many other statebased pride parades over the past couple of years. The internal screens in the office display video montages of our people marching in the Mardi Gras, as do the digital screens in the front of our Sydney stores. We also update the Vodafone logo on our website to our rainbow equivalent for the festival – so regardless of whether you visit us online or in-store you’ll be presented the tangible image of the rainbowflag incorporated into our own branding.
As a company, we encourage the use of gender pronouns in email signatures and support teams to have conversations to clarify what each individual would like to be referred to as rather than assuming. The inclusion of gender pronouns in email signatures is, not only a tangible symbol of inclusivity, but it also helps to normalise the practice of sharing and asking for pronouns. When introducing themselves, we encourage our teams to state their pronouns to support others feel safe to share their own.
We also give our employees the option of including the standard Vodafone logo in their signature or our rainbow Pride logo. This gives our teams the opportunity to show their visible support for LGBTQI+ employees and customers in a simple yet visible manner.
We’re currently in the process of organizing LGBTQI+ awareness training for all employees and it’s our aim to further educate our teams around the significance of key dates on the LGBTQI+ calendar.
Specifically for Pride Month we’ve sent out “Pride Packs” to all our stores – these packs feature amongst other things ally badges, LGBTQI+ inclusion posters and treats for the team. Our standard logo will also be swapped out to our Pride logo across our social media platforms and our teams will be sharing how they’re celebrating Pride month in store.