And just as Pride celebrates diversity, the ways in which it’s important to people are many and varied. Every individual person and every organisation will have a different set of perspectives through which they interpret Pride and take meaning from it.
For us, one of the most important things that it represents is listening to our employees and colleagues. Listening to their experiences and perspectives and their ideas on how we can keep moving forward on the path towards being the inclusive employer that we’re striving to be. That’s why we decided to celebrate Pride – and its values of diversity and inclusion - by incorporating the rainbow into our logos for the duration of Pride Month. We did this not merely as lip service, but because the Openreach Employee Pride Network asked us to - and we listened. The voices of our friends and colleagues who are part of both the Openreach family and the LGBTQ+ community are crucial if we’re going to achieve our goals, and they deserve to be heard.
February was LGBT history month and as we both celebrated and reflected upon that history, we started to have a lot of conversations among ourselves. We talked about how we could go forward, how we could show our commitment to diversity and inclusion, both to the world and to our 35,000 employees. We talked about how we could better develop our knowledge and support within Openreach and how we could welcome in allies from across the company, building a network of people who’ll support and advocate for their LGBTQ+ colleagues. And we didn’t only talk – we listened too.
During February we hosted a lot of projects internally. Some were about engaging with history and celebrating LGBTQ+ pioneers like Marsha P. Johnson, who’s bravery and moral integrity in the face of oppression is one of the reasons we celebrate Pride in June every year. Others, like a series of videos by senior leaders, were about letting our community know that, from the top-down, we’re committed to providing a supportive and inclusive environment for everyone.
Of course, Pride month, like everything else, has been affected by covid-19. Our ability to participate in events was limited by the extension of the restrictions until 17 July. As face-to-face events are able to return in the near future, we have lots of plans to celebrate our friends and colleagues in the LGBTQ+ community, beginning with Pride in London in September. For the first time we’ll be there as a company and we’re really excited - it’s a fantastic chance to represent our commitment to inclusion for all in one of the world’s most diverse cities. London has a rich history of LGBTQ+ culture and communities, and in 2019 over 30,000 people from a variety of organisations hit the streets to take part in the parade or to march for equality. Pride brings out the best in London and one and half million spectators lined the streets to watch the parade and celebrate our shared humanity. We can’t wait to be a part of it this year. And we don’t want to stop there – our plans for 2022 are to expand our presence into Pride events in other cities across the UK.
When we hoisted the rainbow flag atop the good ship Openreach and changed our logos for Pride month, we had one intention – to let everyone know, from people who are already part of the Openreach family to people who’ll be welcomed into the fold in the future, that we want to be a work-place and organisation where every single person is valued. Where different backgrounds and experiences are strengths and everyone is able to be themselves, completely. That’s really important to us. It’s also really important that we recognise that while we’re on the right path, the journey isn’t over. We’re determined to keep having conversations – difficult ones if necessary- and to keep listening to our LGBTQ+ colleagues. The journey may not be over, but we’re more than ready to hit the open road.