As we delve into Pride’s vibrant and empowering month, we reflect on the importance of unity, acceptance, and creating spaces where everyone feels seen, heard, and celebrated. At Andron, we firmly believe in embracing diversity and fostering inclusivity during Pride Month and every day of the year.
It’s been over 50 years since the first Pride march in 1970. And although there have been many positive steps in the right direction for the LGBTQ+ community, many challenges persist.
Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain Work Report found that 35% of LGBTQ+ professionals have concealed their sexual orientation while at work out of fear of discrimination. Nearly one-fifth, precisely 18%, have unfortunately experienced unwelcome comments or discriminatory behaviour solely due to their sexual orientation. And 17% have felt the painful sting of exclusion from their colleagues simply because of their identity.
It’s clear that there is still some way to go before workplaces are free from discrimination and bias, and organisations need to take concrete steps to ensure that workplace culture and policies offer direct support and commitment to LGBTQ+ employees. Today, we are highlighting some of the steps Andron has taken to support our LGBTQ+ employees; however, we know there is still much left for us to do.
Breaking Down Barriers and Partnering with Social Enterprises
Andron is partnering with Social Enterprises to address our communities’ most challenging social and economic issues, many of which disproportionately affect the LGBTQ+ community, and create a fairer, more equitable FM industry.
Our employability programme, Inclusive Futures, provides life-changing employment and work experience opportunities for people furthest from the job market. Together with social enterprises such as Drive Forward and Social Bite, we are breaking down the barriers people face on their route to employment and providing sustainable jobs to individuals facing diverse social challenges, including care-experienced young people aged 16 – 24, people with a background of homelessness and people with previous convictions. However, these barriers are often just one part of an individual’s background; further barriers exist across race, religion, gender, class, and sexuality.
For example, research from Stonewall shows that almost one in five LGBT people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Rates are even higher amongst trans people, with 25% having experienced homelessness. And according to the Albert Kennedy Trust (akt), 77% of LGBTQ+ young people gave ‘family rejection, abuse or being asked to leave home’ as a cause of their homelessness. Furthermore, Drive Forward notes that care-experienced LGBTQ+ young people are particularly prone to stigma from family, friends, and professionals, making it even harder to ‘come out’ in care.
Supporting social enterprises employing marginalised individuals contributes to a broader social impact. It helps break poverty, homelessness, and exclusion cycles disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ+ community. By actively providing employment opportunities through social enterprises, we are helping to break down barriers and create pathways for economic independence for LGBTQ+ individuals who have faced homelessness or are care experienced. Together, we are championing a more equitable society where all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can access meaningful employment and work experience opportunities.
Unconscious Bias, Equality & Diversity Training
Unconscious or unintentional bias is widespread in the workplace and usually unrecognised, often based on outdated and irrational assumptions about the roles of racially diverse people, people with disabilities, gender, age, sexuality, religion/belief at work.
Andron’s Unconscious Bias training is a requirement for all our management and equips our teams with the knowledge and understanding necessary to create an inclusive and respectful environment for all. Its goal is to reduce bias in workplace attitudes and behaviours, from hiring and promotion decisions to interactions with customers and colleagues. The interactive training, which aims to cultivate a more inclusive workplace and drive systemic change, consists of informative workshops, challenges and debates led by experienced professionals in a safe and supportive environment, fostering respect, building relationships, and strengthening team dynamics. All staff also undergo training on our Equality and Diversity Policy, which sets our zero-tolerance policy on bullying, discrimination and harassment and encourages allyship to help create an inclusive environment where everyone can be themselves.
As a highly diverse company, we’re dedicated to supporting not only the LGBTQ+ community but also shining a light on and combatting the bias that individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds face, including people with experiences of homelessness, people with previous convictions, people with disabilities, and young people transitioning from the care system into employment.
Inclusive and Gender-Neutral Policies
We firmly believe that policies should be inclusive and respectful of all individuals. That’s why all our policies have been carefully crafted to be gender neutral. For example, our gender-neutral parental leave policy offers parental leave support to the primary caregiver, regardless of gender. This approach ensures that everyone, irrespective of their gender identity or expression, feels valued and supported within our organisation.
Safe Spaces for Employees’ Voices
We understand the importance of creating a safe and empowering space for our LGBTQ+ employees. That’s why we have established an internal LGBTQ+ Network Group, providing a platform for open dialogue, support, and advocacy. This group is a powerful force within our organisation, ensuring that every voice is heard and everyone feels valued.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Support
While mental health challenges can impact anyone, the Mental Health Foundation highlights that they are more prevalent within the LGBTIQ+ community. It’s crucial to recognise that being LGBTIQ+ does not directly cause these issues, but the unique struggles faced by LGBTIQ+ individuals, such as discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, social isolation, rejection, and the often-tumultuous journey of coming out.
Nevertheless, it’s important to emphasise that embracing one’s LGBTIQ+ identity can foster a positive transformation. It can empower individuals, instil confidence, create a profound sense of belonging within a community, provide relief and self-acceptance, and foster stronger, more meaningful relationships with friends and family. Through this celebration of identity and self-discovery, the LGBTIQ+ community finds strength, resilience, and the capacity to thrive.
To support our LGBTQ+ employees who may be having a difficult time, we have several mental health first aiders across our business, and everyone has access to our confidential access to work programme, free of charge. This service provides employees with advice and guidance from a mental health specialist who can help them learn coping mechanisms, build resilience, access therapy or work with us to make adjustments to support their mental health at work.
Building awareness all year round
We believe in the power of visibility and celebration. Each year, we proudly recognise and celebrate Pride Month and LGBTQ+ History Month, using our internal employee app, MyAndron, to spread critical messages of unity and kindness throughout the year. These celebrations testify to our unwavering support for the LGBTQ+ community and allow us to unite as a force of acceptance and progress.
At Andron, one of our guiding core values, We are Better Together, celebrates our inclusive and diverse culture, where everyone has a voice, all opinions are heard, and no one is afraid to speak their mind. We firmly believe that our diversity of thought, perspective, and people make us stronger, where everyone can bring their authentic selves to the table without fear of judgment or discrimination. By embracing the LGBTQ+ community and promoting equality, we strive to cultivate an environment that nurtures creativity, fosters innovation, and drives success.