8 reasons why ‘OUT at Tesco’ are awesome

8 reasons why ‘OUT at Tesco’ are awesome

In our new ‘Awesome Network’ series, we put the spotlight on a network group that has proven themselves time and again to be truly awesome. First up is OUT at Tesco, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) network at Tesco – the UK’s biggest retailer.

Employee network groups are awesome. Not only do they enhance the employee workplace experience, help attract and retain talent and offer development and social opportunities for their members, many also go above and beyond this and have a positive impact in many other ways. Whether this is volunteering and fundraising for charity, supporting diversity and inclusion campaigns and initiatives, influencing business and policy decisions and sharing their insight and learning’s with other networks…and many more. This is why we think OUT at Tesco are an awesome network.

Supporting charity

During Pride in London 2015 and 2016 the OUT at Tesco team coordinated authentic support for the event and beyond, with Tesco stores selling the UK’s first specially designed Pride t-shirts (also available online), created by F&F, where £1 for every t-shirt purchased was donated to the Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline. They also donate hundreds of goody-bags filled with food and drinks for the volunteers who make the event happen each year.

At Manchester Pride last summer the team jumped in at the last minute to ensure the Manchester Canalsiders, an inclusive LGBT+ rugby group, had a vehicle for their float when they experienced some last minute issues – providing a Tesco lorry and driver for the day.

Authentic senior support

Probably one of the most important factors to the success of a network group, and driving real cultural change, is authentic senior support. Not just a senior person who puts their name to internal articles on your intranet or press releases, someone who really believes in the value of the network and shows their visible support as well as recognising the contribution of the individuals who drive the network forward, many doing this in their own time. The network is supported at every level in the business.

Benny Higgins (pictured), CEO of Tesco Bank, is the networks Senior Champion. He gave a fantastic keynote speech at Stonewall’s 2015 Workplace Conference in London where he quoted Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Listen to his keynote speech below.

Supporting Stonewall’s #NoBystanders campaign

The network was a driving force behind Tesco promoting Stonewall’s #NoBystanders anti-bullying campaign to their 320,000 UK based employees. The network held a tour of the company’s sites across the UK and Ireland to raise awareness of the campaign and encourage colleagues to sign the #NoBystanders pledge. Support for the campaign and the organisation’s commitment to equality and diversity is shown at the very top of the organisation, with senior leaders including Personnel Director Therese Procter (pictured) and Board Member Benny Higgins underlining Tesco’s commitment to this agenda.

Showing Pride in the communities they serve

The network supports many LGBT+ Pride events around the UK each year, with hundreds of Tesco employees joining them on their colourful parade floats and walking with pride. You may have spotted their awesome ‘Supermarket Disco’ float in the Pride in London parade this summer. Other Pride events supported by the network include Glasgow, Brighton, Cardiff, Manchester and Edinburgh. Their local stores really get behind the events.

Supporting LGBT History Month

To mark Tesco’s support of LGBT History Month in February the group changed the Tesco logo on their Head Office sites in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Welwyn Garden City to the ‘Pride Chevrons’ – now a regular fixture on many of their stores during Pride season.

This year Tesco also published an LGBT History Month timeline on the Tesco website, showing the journey of the LGBT movement both in the UK and at Tesco.

They also shared an awesome video where members of the network and their Executive Sponsors reflect on what Out at Tesco means to them. Watch the video below.

Sharing and supporting others

The network team has been supporting NHS National Services Scotland develop and gain momentum for their own employee network groups. This support was recognised at the 2016 Stonewall Scotland Awards where Tesco received a Special Recognition Award for showing innovation in collaborative working and sharing best practice. John Dickinson (pictured, right), Chair of Out At Tesco, accepted the award and shared the openness of Tesco in collaborating and supporting others in creating more inclusive and diverse workplaces and communities.

The network offers a mentoring programme for their 1,500+ employee members as well as lots of opportunities to get involved with coordinating the network – learning new skills and enhancing their CV.

LGBT+ advertising

Over the last 12 months Tesco have advertised in Attitude magazine, the UK’s biggest magazine for gay and bisexual men. The ads haven’t been your usual corporate feeling adverts, but adverts that promote the work of the network as well as promoting their charity partnerships – and encouraging readers to support them too. This is significant as you very rarely see high-street retailers or massive organisations advertising in LGBT+ publications. A great example of the group working to reach customers from all communities.

Tesco also proudly supported our 2015 Inclusive Networks Awards by advertising in the event programme.

An award-winning network

Anyone involved in coordinating employee networks will tell you they don’t do it for the recognition. Most of the work is behind the scenes and generally goes unnoticed. However, it’s always nice to receive recognition for the commitment and support of your members, the positive impact the network has in lots of areas, whether increasing engagement and brand reputation, or supporting charity and beyond.

OUT at Tesco have had their awesome work recognised at many diversity awards events around the UK in the last few years. Here’s a summary of some of their recognition;

  • OUT at Tesco were named ‘Team of the Year’ at the 2015 Inclusive Networks Awards – pictured
  • Tesco Bank were crowned ‘Employer of the Year’ at the 2015 ICON Awards
  • OUT at Tesco were named ‘LGBT Network of the Year’ at the 2014 Out & g3 Readers Awards
  • The network received ‘Special Recognition’ awards at the 2015 and 2016 Stonewall Scotland Awards


    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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