28 Sep 2018
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The team at UCL celebrating IDAHOBIT

Supporting our clients to promote the Pride agenda

This post was written by Laura Burgess, HR Director, Schools and Universities

As we come to the end of this year’s ‘Pride season’, I have been reflecting on what Pride means to me. I made it to Brighton Pride this year and was disappointed to miss the London event, particularly because Sodexo took part in the parade. I was so proud to see our colleagues representing our Company’s commitment to supporting LGBT people and taking to social media to spread the word far and wide.

As well as promoting an inclusive and respectful workplace culture within Sodexo, we also engage with clients and customers to promote inclusion and respect more widely. This is clearly an area in which we can support within my own segment, Universities.

A worrying report from Stonewall, released this year, found that many LGBT university students regularly face abuse and exclusion. The report found that three in five trans students have experienced negative comments, with one in five LGB students who aren’t trans saying the same. Our latest Global University Lifestyle Survey, a survey of 3,000 students in six countries, backs up these concerns.

Across the UK and Ireland we work with 50 universities, delivering a range of services including catering, hospitality, FM and accommodation. We also work as a strategic partner with our clients finding areas of commonality where we can support wider quality of life for students, such as employability skills, health and wellbeing and promoting diversity and inclusion.

Our student experience and residence life managers play a vital role for us in engaging with students on campus. They promote events like the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia with information and awareness and wearing lots of purple.

I am a gay person who went through University and then into the corporate world. I can’t express enough how  the visibility and support that Pride marches and international employee networks brings is so important. Over  sixty percent of gay people who ‘came out’ at University go ‘back in’ when entering the workplace after graduation, through fear of mistreatment and discrimination. Pride events, and all of the support that Sodexo gives to colleagues, clients and customers is so important to stop this fear. It has certainly helped me to be out at work and be myself.

So, if you are wondering whether it is worth spending time supporting a pride network in your workplace or attending a Pride event next year, take it from me – it really means something to lots of people. I would like to thank everyone in Sodexo who shows their ongoing support and urge others to get involved.

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