From Edinburgh…to Germany…and a stop off at the House of Commons

From Edinburgh…to Germany…and a stop off at the House of Commons

It’s been an eventful few weeks for me, and for Inclusive Networks, so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to over the last few weeks with you. But before I get started, a mention that February is LGBT History Month. The aim of the month is to celebrate the lives and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from our past and present. It’s fantastic seeing so many employee network groups supporting the month by sharing blogs, social media posts and hosting events – great work everyone!

I mentioned in my last blog how we’ve very much gone back to where Inclusive Networks started and our focus is celebrating and promoting diversity network groups and inclusive employers and brands. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few weeks developing our new ‘ groups’ web pages and new features, including our Diversity Calendar and free resources, including fact-sheets and events calendar. We’ll be launching lots of these soon, I can’t wait. I hope you’ll find them useful, and I’d love to know what you think of them. If there is anything you’d like us to cover, or any additions that you think would be useful to you, and probably others, please get in touch. Inclusive Networks is for you!

At the end of January I was invited by Adidas to join them at their impressive head office complex in Herzogenaurauch, Germany, to be a part of an exciting day with their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) network group and senior sponsors. I can’t say too much about the day but it was great to meet the team and be a part of their exciting journey. I even met one of the designers of their awesome Pride themed trainers and t-shirts (aka the Pride Pack). Did you know these products were designed by members of their LGBT+ network group? On my mini visit I was greeted with a sprinkling of snow. I love winter so this was a welcome sight for me, we’ve had none in Edinburgh for so long. Upon my arrival at the hotel I was told that Adi Dassler, the founder of Adidas, actually founded that very hotel – the Adidas product displays and history capsules kind of gave this away. Thanks to the Adidas team for making me feel so welcome.

On 1st February I made the long journey from Edinburgh to London for a packed day – I love days like this. First stop of the day was a round table event with a host of other awesome organisations who work in the diversity and inclusion space. It was my first time in the famous Gherkin building, and it didn’t disappoint. Facilitated by the team at Jeito Consulting, we were joined by representatives from organisations including Diversity Jobs, WeAreTheCity and Inclusive Employers – and a few more. There was lots of positive discussions with the focus being on collaboration and supporting each other, and working together on a future project that’s very much needed in the space. I’m looking forward to the next gathering. It was great meeting everyone, some I already know, and the tour of the top floors of the building, and the huge bacon sandwiches (and pastries), were an added bonus. They do say together everyone achieves more!

“There was lots of positive discussions with the focus being on collaboration and supporting each other, and working together on a future project that’s very much needed in the space. They do say together everyone achieves more!”

A trip to the Adidas HQ in Germany | An awesome round table discussion at the Gherkin | Justine Smithies, Jeremy Corbyn, Thomas Anderson & Christina Riley | Our Founder Thomas Anderson with Years & Years star Olly Alexander

After a few hours of calls and a bit of lunch, I headed over to the House of Commons to join the Labour Party LGBT History Month celebrations. The reception was hosted by the leader of the Labour Party, Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Women & Equalities, Sarah Champion MP, to celebrate the LGBT movement’s significant contribution to our country and the world at large. Before heading over to the venue I met up with Justine Smithies, one of the contributors to the first issue of our #ThisIsMe magazine – she’d travelled down from Aberdeen to join the celebrations. After a few gin and tonics we joined the queue and after our security checks (they let us in) up to the board room we went to join the other invited guests. It was great to see lots of familiar faces, as well as say hello to people I feel like I know, but have only communicated with via social media and phone calls. The evening had a refreshing feel of celebrating grass root organisations, activists and role models – as opposed to having a more corporate feel. I chatted to lots of guests, including the fabulous Chairs of awesome network groups who were recognised at our Inclusive Networks Awards. A little fan-boy moment, I had a nice chat with Olly Alexander of Years and Years – such a lovely guy and a great role model. Watch out for Inclusive Networks separate article about this event, and what other political parties are doing to celebrate the month.

I caught up with the Co-chair of an LGBT network at a big law firm at the event – who were actually the first network I met after founding Inclusive Networks. She told me how one of their employees had come to her and said she should check out Inclusive Networks (who she thankfully already knew about), and how our features had inspired them to ask the business about setting up a Sikh Network. A real highlight. It made my day.

“She told me how one of their employees had come to her and said she should check out Inclusive Networks, and how our features had inspired them to ask the business about setting up a Sikh Network.”

Other highlights from the last few weeks include Inclusive Networks contributing to the recently published ‘Networks That Work’ report by Women Ahead. The team interviewed network heads representing networks in 31 companies, revealed that by making a few changes the networks could work better for their members and organisations. PwC and HSBC supported this research. Inclusive Networks is listed as one of the participating organisations in the report, alongside organisations including Google, Channel 4, Microsoft and BBC.

I’ve been working on lots of new content for our website and working with a number of awesome network groups on some special features that we’ll be publishing soon. I’m looking forward to introducing you all to their fantastic networks.

Nominations continue to fly in for our #ThisIsMe Awesome100 awards – nominations close on 19th February 2017. We’ll be celebrating the inspiring people who make our #ThisIsMe Awesome100 list at a special event at Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on 25th April 2017 and in London following this. Well done to our latest nominees, who include : Chloe Tear, Hayley Barnden, John Bradbury, Manjit K Gill, Neil McDonald, Shaun Dellenty, Sophie Green and Tim Jarman – plus many more. We’ll be celebrating and rewarding inspiring and truly awesome people who help and support others and drive diversity and inclusion – in our communities, workplaces and beyond. Volunteers, people who fundraise, support network groups, inspire others, talk about difficult subjects and help others, people and groups doing awesome things, role models…Do you know someone who should be recognised? Nominate them now here.

March is Women’s History Month and I’m very excited that Inclusive Networks will be publishing 31 original interviews with inspiring women from all walks of life during the month – including interviews with politicians, some well known faces, network group members, community heroes and beyond. Thank you to everyone who has given their time to contribute.

Until my next Inclusive Networks update, I wish you all every success in your own work, initiatives and any challenges you may be working to get over. If I can be of any support, feel free to get in touch.

Nobody is more influential when it comes to communicating your company’s brand and workplace culture, than the employees themselves. If you’d like to share your workplace, employee and community engagement and network group news and updates with our readers, then we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us here!

About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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