I have learned so much from being involved with the Network over the last year and I feel really fortunate to have had this opportunity at Vodafone. As a Friend of LGBT+, I have always supported the LGBT+ community, but I didn’t realise there was a place for me in the LGBT+ Friends Network when I started at Vodafone. As part of the HR Graduate scheme, I was lucky enough to be a part of the Diversity and Inclusion team, where I was an HR point of contact for our Pride in London Sponsorship, our Manchester Pride participation, and all things Pride that went on around our hub sites!
As I got to work more and more closely with members of the Network, both locally and in other parts of the country, I began to truly appreciate the value that the Network brings to my LGBT+ colleagues, and how important it is that we stand as allies to show our support and get involved whenever we can. The organisation was tough, but I couldn’t have been happier to see members of the Network; LGBT+ colleagues, friends, family and allies, all enjoying themselves at Pride after the hard work we put in. It was definitely the highlight of my first year at Vodafone.
However, I am not only an ally because I was given the opportunity to work closely with the Network during Pride. I am an ally because I not only want to represent all of my LGBT+ friends and family who do not have the same communities in their workplaces, but because I feel very passionately about driving and supporting equality within the workplace (and beyond). The LGBT+ Friends Network are incredibly inclusive, and I am so grateful for the warmth with which they have welcomed me into the community we have here at Vodafone.
The main thing I’ve learnt from my time with the Network is that everyone has a community that is close to their heart, and sometimes it is being part of such a community that helps them to find their voice. In a company like Vodafone, there are thousands of unique people, and finding the ones who have a passion for driving the same good from within as you can be challenging, but very powerful once achieved, and I feel that the Network really gives people opportunity to do this. I am in awe of the drive and dedication displayed by the Network, as they are not only a community at a social level, but they are genuinely taking steps to help educate their colleagues and make Vodafone a better place to work. I have learnt so much about LGBT+ issues that I had no idea existed, about terminology usage and common misconceptions – working with colleagues throughout the Network has really helped to educate me personally, teaching me things I can then pass on to others.
I am thrilled that our LGBT+ Friend’s Network has such an excellent presence and such passionate, authentic colleagues within it, and I feel really privileged to have been a part of it for the last year. I can’t wait to continue to support them going forward and see what 2018 brings!