Victoria Whitehouse is one of the #VirginFamily’s most wonderful examples of why it’s important to bring your most truthful and authentic self to work.
A member of the #VirginFamily for over 22 years, Victoria truly embodies the values that we celebrate here at Virgin. In this, Victoria’s 22nd year with the company, she is working as inclusion lead at Virgin Trains – sharing her experience, her passion, and her commitment to helping others. We recently spoke to Victoria about some of the exciting things happening over at Virgin Trains during Pride Month.
Virgin Train customers across the UK have been experiencing something a little different for the last few weeks. For those who haven’t been lucky enough to board a #RideWithPride train, can you tell us what’s been going on?
At Virgin Trains we wanted to create something that represented the passion we have for the LGBTQIA+ community. We wanted it to celebrate our people and our customers and thought – what better way to do this than to wrap a train in the pride flag?! Set 390045 (an electric high-speed train) is now called ‘Virgin Pride’ – and is wrapped gloriously in the pride flag with #RideWithPride down the side.
The train has already built itself quite the following, with people standing for hours on platforms across the country to catch a glimpse. We also wanted people travelling to pride events on the west coast to be in the party mood early, so in addition to the outside, we decorated the inside of the train too (with pride cup cakes, face painting and more). We’re excited about our train and Virgin Atlantic’s Pride flight – both showing that Virgin really are leading the way and enabling people and customers to be who they truly are.
The Pride Train is one part of Virgin Trains’ commitment to promoting and championing greater inclusion across the company. What else is happening?
Virgin Trains were proud sponsors of this year’s main stage at Birmingham Pride. We have also been working hard to make the railway an inclusive place for everyone and have a new inclusion panel where customers interact with staff to come up with new initiatives. Some of these initiatives include the Jam Card (Just a minute) for those with communication barriers (www.jamcard.org), the calm corner at Crewe (a waiting room for people that are neurodivergent) and Alexa skill ensuring customers can book Journeycare. We also focus on mental health and neurodiversity. Our new inclusion campaign, #ThisIsMe, has just launched and our inclusion council will launch in mid July. We really want to push boundaries and support our Inclusive culture.
Virgin Trains has a LGBTQIA+ group. Can you tell us how this started? How it’s been going? And share any tips for other organisations looking to do the same?
We have an internal LGBTQIA+ employee network that are super engaged and get involved in all the events and inclusion initiatives. Having employee network groups helps to embed an inclusive company culture and supports engagement, enhances communication and gives employees a sense of belonging. They also helps legal compliance, nurture talent and support career progression (as people learn new skills and get exposure to new things).
I would say to anyone building network groups, that they need to have a clear vision of what the purpose and remit of the groups will be – and to make sure that you have passionate people to chair the groups. Some of your most engaged people will take part, so look after them, listen and learn – they will be your innovators and drive your inclusive culture forward.
How have the Pride events in June been? Any highlight moments?
We have had a blast at the Pride events and we have more to follow! Our biggest and best yet was Birmingham Pride. By sponsoring the main stage we made a bold statement and want to keep the momentum going. If you want to know where the train will be going next, then follow our social media channels, where more info will be posted.
To round-out an incredible month of activity and celebration the #RideWithPride party will be in London on July 6th. Don’t miss it!