Sarah Warby: Building our LGBT+ network one ally at a time

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With the recent horrific attacks in Orlando, we are reminded how important it is to support the LGBT+ community and here at Sainsbury’s we are on a journey to do just that.

Our vision of being an inclusive retailer where people love to work and shop is brought to life by our active LGBT+ network - we have 577 members, including allies. These allies can take many forms; whether they’re colleagues or organisations who we can learn from, they are key to building our LGBT+ network even further this year.

One way in which we are expanding our network is through our Proud@Sainsbury’s networking events. These are great opportunities for all colleagues, and other ally organisations like Stonewall, to share experiences and contribute ideas that will support LGBT+ colleagues. Colleagues can socialise in a relaxed and friendly environment and debate important issues which affect the LGBT+ community, and I am sure the ideas that come up will also inform our support for other diversity groups.

This year, to mark Pride season, we have developed rainbow-coloured coupons.  These will reach our customers on a broad scale and are a demonstration of our commitment to LGBT+ rights amongst our colleagues and wider society. We want our customers to understand that for us people come first, and we want our colleagues to see that we respect and champion diversity and equality. This is why we support and encourage participation in Pride parades across the country.

Whilst our participation in large scale events like Pride in London, or Leeds Pride, which last year had over 180 colleagues in attendance, is important, we must also look at showing our support at a local level. This is where CheckOut comes into play. The scheme provides a platform for LGBT+ staff and their allies to connect, network and socialise in their local area and is supported by a network of LGBT+ focussed UK retailers.

Collaboration is key to fostering greater inclusivity, especially given that LGBT+ inclusion has now become a global issue. Stonewall links companies which are at different stages of development. As a result we now benefit from a strong mentoring relationship with Accenture, which is helping drive change within our business. We have learned a lot from them on how to build an ‘Allies Programme’ where employees, no matter if they’re LGBT+ or not, help to drive inclusion and raise awareness for LGBT+ equality. This increased awareness helps create a virtuous circle, it enables LGBT+ colleagues to draw on the support of colleagues throughout the business and it helps us further expand the network

Whilst we acknowledge that we’re at an early stage in our LGBT+ journey, we know that being mentored by Accenture and working closely with Stonewall brings new perspectives, greater insight and helps develop best practice. 

It makes me so proud that this year we will be taking part in more Pride events than ever before. During these events, we’ll not only be waving our flags in memory of the victims in Orlando but we’ll also be showing how far we’ve come as an organisation, proudly standing side by side with our fantastic LGBT+ colleagues in support of the LGBT+ community.

By Sarah Warby, Marketing Director and Operating Board Sponsor for LGBT at Sainsbury’s