Proud to be Home

March 1st, 2017 by Ronika Cunningham, Involvement Manager in Recruitment

A woman with short curly hair stands and smiles to the camera - Ronika Cunningham.

Today marks the end of LGBT+ History month, which provides role models, builds community, and makes the civil rights statement about our extraordinary national and international contributions.

I have to say that during February I have seen some great examples in the main stream media and social media of people promoting LGBT+ rights and chronicling the struggle and the campaigners who have brought us to where we are today.

We seem to have come a long way with equal marriage, openly LGBT+ politicians, TV and sports personalities, film and soap characters etc. But a lot of this history is frighteningly recent; homosexuality was only decriminalised 50 years ago, and in February the UK government 'pardoned' 49,000 gay and bisexual men who were prosecuted under the various homophobic laws. Many people in the LGBT+ community have publically rejected it because they believe this should be an apology rather than a pardon.

For just over two years same sex couples have been able to get married in England and Scotland, and from 2015 following a referendum in Ireland. In Northern Ireland marriage is not available to same sex couples. Same sex relationships are still illegal in 77 countries with punishments including imprisonment, public flogging and the death penalty in 10 countries.

On a more positive note our young people, our future generations, are much more relaxed and progressive in their views. My 16 year old son has friends who are openly bisexual, transgender and pansexual (I had to look that one up). It really is no big deal to them. Though on the flip side ‘you’re so gay…that’s so gay’ are still popular playground insults.

The battle for equality has come a long way in recent years. And while it’s entirely right that we have an event which highlights our achievements it’s also worth remembering there are 11 other months in the year when we must strive to ensure LGBT+ issues don’t go unheard.

One of the most effective ways we can do this is at work. By creating an environment where we tackle prejudice and discrimination we can ensure people bring their whole self to work. We know that people perform better when they can be themselves.

At Home Group we have Pride at Home our active Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender plus (LGBT+) employee network of over 60 colleagues. In 2016 we were delighted to welcome our 100 strong allies’ network, Partners in Pride who are a visible support network and Role Models in the organisation for supporting LGBT+ Colleagues. These two groups are working together to make Home Group a more inclusive workplace.

Out Role Models guide is 45% LGBT+. We have 16 LGBT+ Role Models across the organisation and our Human Library LGBT+ members raise awareness and challenge stereo types by telling their stories to colleagues and customers at life swap events across the organisation and at external events. Pride@Home were finalists for the ‘Inspiring Inclusive’ award at Home Stars (our internal awards ceremony) in 2016.

For the last two years Home Group has aspired to make it onto Stonewall’s top 100 index of LGBT+ friendly places to work. We’re not there yet but I know a lot of us feel that Home Group is the very best place to work from an LGBT+ perspective.

We’ll continue to support each other, raise awareness and challenge ourselves and get Home Group recognised as the great place to work for LGBT+ colleagues that we know it to be.

Want to work for an inclusive employer? Join us!