We’re proud to be awarded a Silver Award from LGBTQ+ organisation, Stonewall, and be named in their Top 100 Employers for 2023 – which recognises businesses which are committed to creating a culture where LGBTQ+ employees can bring their whole selves to work and inclusive workplaces which are safe spaces for all.
To mark this, we spoke with Aaron and Sophie from our Proudly network – our internal network representing our LGBTQ+ employees, to find out what this means to them, and for the business as a whole:
Q: This is a fantastic achievement and one that Virgin Media O2 should be proud of. Why is this so important?
Aaron: This is the first time that Virgin Media O2 has entered as the joint venture, and we’ve made it to the Top 100 Employers and earned a Silver Award too. Without a doubt, this reflects the tireless effort to champion LGBTQ+ equality and shows that Virgin Media O2 is a place where LGBTQ+ people are considered and included. With teamwork, it puts us in a strong place to climb through the Workplace Equality Index over the coming years and continue to drive change throughout the organisation.
Sophie: The Silver Award represents meeting certain criteria that demonstrates Virgin Media O2’s commitment to providing a safe work environment. Our ambition is to get Gold next year! Joining the Top 100 Employers is another level of achievement, as we needed to demonstrate meeting the required standards across the organisation and doing it consistently ahead of other companies. It tells the world that we are in organisation that values diverse talent and provides an environment where those people can thrive.
Q: What do you think has been key to earning our place?
Aaron: For me, strong team play was essential. Whether it was driving change together through the business by speaking up for trans colleagues or working across the organisation to understand the vital work different teams are doing, clear communication and having a team plan in place to drive change was key.
Sophie: Without doubt a plan and great teamwork. The Proudly plan was prioritised for what our community needed. Teamwork was key to delivering change (and having a bit of fun) as we all have day jobs, and need to spread the effort to deliver communication, training and make change happen.
Q: What do you think are your greatest achievements of the network, Proudly, to date?
Aaron: In 2022, the network took a consultative approach towards the business and spoke up for the importance of stepping up for our colleagues who are trans and non-binary.
Sophie: We’ve also been able to help get optional pronouns accepted.
Q: As a network, what would you like to achieve by the end of the 2023?
Aaron: For me, it’s essential that people feel that they can bring their authentic selves to work. Any achievements that help this – whether they’re seen as big or small – are worthwhile.
Sophie: We want to build on our progress so we can continue to make VMO2 an employer where everyone can be themselves.
Q: What advice would you give to a company at the beginning of their LGBTQ+ inclusivity journey?
Aaron: Enable your people to be able to share their thoughts and be responsive to where they think there’s still room to be making progress.
Sophie: The most important thing is to start with a sense of fairness and equality. Listen to your people and what they think needs to be addressed but give equity to their voices as not everyone can shout as loud.
Q: At Virgin Media O2, we strive to ensure that the workplace is a safe space. What advice would you give to new starters who may identify as LGBTQ+?
Aaron: Know that the people here are supportive and respectful. There’s a supportive bunch at Proudly who will always have time for a confidential chat and are fearless champions of LGBTQ+ rights. I’d also recommend expanding your network by getting involved with the campaigns and work Proudly carries out.
Sophie: Virgin Media O2 is a great place to work for LGBTQ+ people where people will respect your gender, sexuality, and equality. That won’t necessarily make it easier to share your identity, nor do you need to, so consider asking Proudly for confidential help on coming out.