From a very young age, my parents taught us that people should be able to love whoever they want to without fear.
It is a belief that has driven Dad from the very beginning – to use his voice and businesses to support those people being victimised and marginalised in society. Indeed, when he was just a teenager, Dad set up a charity called the Student Advisory Centre where young people could anonymously find help for their problems from the right people. He also actively campaigned for gay rights in the pages of Student Magazine and in 1981 he bought Heaven - Europe’s biggest gay nightclub, in London.
Dad’s passion for inclusivity and equality has been woven into Virgin’s very DNA for the past 50 years. It also sparked my personal passion for purpose-driven business and my mission to ensure our people can be 100% themselves at work.
From sponsoring Pride festivals to hosting international panels, joining business-led coalitions that drives LGBTQ+ inclusion, and using our global voice to support the abolition of anti-LGBTQ+ laws – I’m so proud of how Virgin is standing up for human rights all around the world.
Behind the scenes, it goes beyond this too. From reflecting and adapting our recruitment processes through to Group-wide People Forums and simple things like adding our pronouns to our e-mail signatures – we’re always trying to improve and make sure everyone feels part of the family.
Late last year, I was really struck by the way Virgin Media is creating a culture of belonging and building trust, inclusivity and empathy within the workplace in a simple and supportive way. The team held a series of Belonging Panels where employees shared their stories and lived experiences. The idea is to help everyone feel connected and gently let people who are struggling or feeling marginalised in any aspect of life feel comfortable and supported. I hosted one of the panels and have rarely experienced a more moving moment at work.
Pride Month has looked a little different in 2020 as we’ve been confined to our homes and virtual events. At Virgin Management, we’re sharing the stories of our incredible Virgin Family members from the LGBTQ+ community as part of our Being Out, Staying In series. I’ll also be reading out one of my favourite pride-themed children’s books on social media. Keep an eye on my Instagram page for the details - it will be a great one to watch with the kids!
Dad has also become a Pride Live Stonewall Day Ambassador. I’ll definitely be watching their global livestream event on June 26 that will support LGBTQ+ organisations most affected by COVID-19 and I would encourage you all to join us.
Happy Pride season all our LGBTQ+ friends and family and here’s to a colourful and inclusive future.