Whitbread Pride 2023 - Janet
Celebrating Pride Month 2023, Whitbread’s Head of Inclusion and Development shares how the LGBTQ+ community is thriving…
What is Whitbread’s vision for embedding and supporting Diversity and Inclusion across the organisation?
We aspire to be a force for good, providing a safe working environment where everyone can be themselves, regardless of how they identify. It is important to note that in one way or the other, everyone is diverse – after all, we are all individuals! We try hard to be an inclusive business and want to be as diverse as the communities that we serve at all levels of the organisation. It’s important that we create a culture of belonging and representation for our people, our guests, and our communities.
How are you developing safe spaces for people at Whitbread to feel comfortable bringing their true selves to work? All our teams have a role to play, and everyone's role is crucial. How we all behave with each other is critical, and that's through embedding some basic principles around respecting, understanding, and appreciating difference; different views, different lived experiences, and different perspectives.
Leaders have a particularly critical role to play because they’re role models. Everyone should look up to their leader, see how they behave and aim to reflect those behaviours. But I also believe our leaders have a responsibility, as the more senior colleagues within the organisation, to drive change, and to be responsible for changing and enhancing our culture to make sure that we are inclusive.
How much more is there to do, to support inclusion across society?
I think within our business and within society, there is so much more to do and that's part of the reason that I'm passionate about working in this area. I truly believe that society should create equal opportunities, regardless of how you identify. That's what gets me out of bed in the morning!
What initiatives have really moved the needle in terms of evolving Whitbread’s D&I strategy?
One of the things that’s made a huge difference, and that I believe is the most important thing you can do as part of any D&I strategy, is education. And not just doing it once, providing education again and again, repeating it and talking about different topics and talking about them again. That’s what we’ve done - and continue to do. Enabling people to be better allies, supporting them to have open conversations and making them feel more equipped and confident in having those conversations, is key. It’s a multi-year process that we’re committed to delivering on.
This Pride Month, how is our GLOW community supporting and celebrating LGBTQ+ employees and guests?
GLOW is our oldest inclusion network and a wonderful, vibrant community full of individuals from different parts of the LGBTQ+ community. I think the power of GLOW, is in the breadth of how so many people identify differently within the network. GLOW is so much more than a network, it’s a safe space where people can go and share their experiences with like-minded people as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
In the last few years, the business has aligned in a much clearer way, to the Stonewall, Workplace Equality index, and our success in that index is through focusing on the activations that make a positive difference to the inclusion of our LGBTQ+ people. Pride is a period of time when we see lots of businesses celebrate. But it’s not the only time we talk about or celebrate this community. It’s all year round. That’s really important.
What does Pride mean to you?
For me, Pride is about activism and celebration. It allows us to focus on the LGBTQ+ community in our organisation and put it front and centre.
To me personally, I just really want to make sure that our LGBTQ+ employees feel a sense of belonging and safety. Pride Month is a time where we should be demonstrating that ethos, talking about it and showcasing our commitment. For those of us who want to be better allies, it’s also a natural moment for education.
As a business, we are doing more than we've ever done during a Pride season this year. It’s fantastic to see how GLOW is leading all the different events, celebrations, and community meetups that we're doing across Pride season. All our sites across the UK and Ireland have a guest-facing a pack to celebrate Pride within their reception or welcome areas. We also have our first pride cocktail this year with all the profits are going to the Albert Kennedy Trust, which is a brilliant charity chosen by our GLOW network, another example of how GLOW is leading decision-making around Pride.
When you think about what you’ve achieved so far, and your aspirations for the future, what are you most proud of?
The part of this that I’m most proud of is the connections with our amazing people across Whitbread, that give their time on top of their day jobs to come and be part of our different networks. It makes me proud, energised and incredibly humbled. I just think it’s phenomenal to work with such amazing and vibrant communities, where we have the opportunity to meet different people across so many diverse parts of the business and drive change.
What started as a journey let by a handful of people, has evolved into a movement that is much larger, and has real anchors into our business. This isn’t a fad, or a short-term project, it’s how we do things around here. And it will continue to be that way for years to come.