How Virgin Holidays is creating a culture of inclusion

Virgin Holidays has been a champion of LGBT rights for a long time.

From participating in various Pride parades around the UK to promoting LGBT friendly holidays, the tour operator has done a lot to help the LGBT community. Last year, Virgin Holidays produced a video highlighting the treatment that LGBT couples often face when travelling.

But Virgin Holidays’ commitment to inclusion isn’t only for their customers but for their staff too. We caught up with Pauline Wilson, VP – Operations at Virgin Holidays, to find out more…

Why is it important that the Virgin Holidays team is a diverse range of people?

At Virgin Holidays we understand the business case for diversity and inclusion, we understand a more diverse workforce drives greater innovation and creativity and it’s just the right thing to do. More than ever, businesses need diversity of backgrounds, life experiences and viewpoints at every level of management (Forbes, 2017). We wanted to open the hearts and minds of our people by increasing the awareness of difference and our capability to embrace it, across Virgin holidays.

How does Virgin Holidays ensure its workplaces are inclusive and diverse environments?

At Virgin Holidays our ambition is to cultivate more diversity, and develop an employee experience that recognises and embraces difference and enables everyone at Virgin Holidays to be at their best. We do this by ensuring our external portrayal of our brand and our people is always diverse and inclusive. We also ensure our workplace is inclusive and diverse as probably by offering a range of flexible working patters, hot decking and ad hoc home working to many of our employees. This year we also launched Springboard Women’s Development Programme which is designed for women from all backgrounds, ages and stages of their lives. It allows women to enhance their own skills and abilities, challenge power and equality, while building confidence, assertiveness and a positive image.

We have company targets agreed on gender and ethnicity. (Gender 50 per cent female in all our manager and above levels and to achieve a 12 per cent BAME population by 2021).

What practical steps have the team taken in recent years to ensure the business is as inclusive as possible?

We have tried to create an inclusive environment where everyone's individuality is celebrated. We have celebrated inclusion events such as International Women’s’ Day, Mental Health at Work week and Pride Events in London & Brighton.

Virgin Unite, Virgin Holidays, Equal Rights, LGBT, Richard Branson

Also two employee network groups have been set up in our sister company Virgin Atlantic, which we participate in, Scarlet Women’s Network and LGBT+ network.  

We are working on building a diverse workforce and unlocking the potential of our brilliant mix of people. By working with partners like Women in Tech to support recruitment. Continuously ensuring gender neutral advertising and creating an environment of Inclusive and transparent talent management by implementing Inclusive talent principles and having transparent talent conversations.

We are also increasing the awareness of difference and our capability to embrace it, across Virgin Holidays by introducing the Springboard Development Programme for Woman, which focuses on giving woman confidence, assertiveness and resilience in the workplace and by launching our ‘Flourish’ Leadership Development so our leaders and managers can be at their best, embraces difference and understand the benefits of a diverse workgroup. 

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