You are the Inclusion and Diversity Accelerator at OVO. What does your role involve?

My role is about driving initiatives to ensure that we are inclusive in all that we do and that we are progressive in our approach to D&I. I work closely with our eight Belonging Networks – Access, Believe, Generations, Engender, Embrace, Generations, Mind, Neurodiversity, and Pride in Ourselves.

I help the networks with their strategy and plan and support the leads with their role. I also look after our policies, training, internal and external comms as well as all our other inclusion initiatives at OVO.

How important is Inclusion and Diversity and what can people and individuals do to promote these goals, not just in the workplace but also in the wider community? 

If we do not have diverse people and teams then we cannot and will not have a diverse approach, diversity of thought or innovation and we will not reflect the needs of our customers or our people. If our culture is not inclusive then people cannot perform at their best and will not feel like they belong – ultimately the best talent will leave. A 2018 survey by Glassdoor shows that 67% of job seekers say diversity is important – it means so much to people to be able to be themselves and not hide part of their identity.

A more diverse and inclusive workplace is a happier, more engaged and more productive one. In our workplaces and wider society, we need to create a culture where everyone feels valued, respected, supported and loved, allowing them to thrive and be the best they can be. The sense of wanting to be included and belonging is a basic human need that everyone should have fulfilled. We need the beauty, uniqueness, experiences and skills of everyone regardless of how they look, who they love, what they believe, what age they are or how their body and mind works – without them, we have no society.

You are also a Director of Trans in the City. What is Trans in the City and what are its aims and how does it go about achieving them?

Trans in the City is collaboration between global organisations and companies to work together and pledge their commitment to furthering the inclusion of transgender, non-binary and gender diverse people in the workplace. We now work with over 300 companies to support trans awareness and trans rights.

We pool expertise, role models and partner organisations to share knowledge and provide support to any organisations on their journeys. There is always room for improvement and engaging with us provides a safe space to discuss where businesses can improve their practices and policies.

We have three main aims:

Educate – education around what trans really is and how to support employees and customers

Demonstrate – demonstrate the benefits of being an inclusive organisation

Celebrate – celebrate all the successes of the wonderful transgender, non-binary and gender diverse people and their successes and the importance of their valuable role in society and business

It’s free to join and the services are provided free of charge too. I am a proud trans ally and proud of the role I have as Director of DEI and Employment Law. Through this collaboration we can make the world a better and more inclusive place together.

It can be argued that we have come a long way in LGBTQ+ rights over the past decades. What more needs to be done?

I think we have made progress and more companies and places are talking the talk… but not walking the walk. There are laws, policies and processes in place but these are not being lived.

We have such a long way to go on education – Scotland became the first country in the world to advance LGBTQ+ education and TIE are actively delivering this, but we don’t have this approach in every country yet. Trans rights and inclusion has definitely regressed and this year has been particularly difficult for trans people whose whole identity is being questioned by our own government – who find it appropriate to joke about trans people which is shocking.

Hate crime against LGBTQ+ people has doubled in the last four years – rising every year from 2016 – things are getting worse not better and we need people to stand up, stand beside or stand in front of LGBTQ+ people to show them that as allies we stand in solidarity with them and be proactive about challenging inappropriate language and behaviors. We need more LGBTQ+ people to be in senior roles and part of decision-making processes to ensure the views, needs and feelings of the community are always considered.

Either on a personal or on a professional level, what has been your proudest achievement?

I’m proud to have the chance to learn so much and support the LGBTQ+ community. People just want to be themselves and I am proud of the roles I play in supporting them, in particular my amazing son Jordan.