About : Our Founder Thomas Anderson
Thomas grew up in the picturesque Northumberland market town Alnwick (30 miles north of Newcastle and 30 miles south of the Scottish border).
Aged 25, he moved to Newcastle Upon Tyne to be his true self, something he felt he couldn’t be in a small town at that time. Not wanting his sexuality to be one of the first things people associated with him and living in an environment where being different wasn’t the easiest of things to be, Newcastle was a big draw. He then moved to Manchester, famous for it’s multi-cultural society and vibrant LGBT+ scene. After almost eight years living in Manchester he moved to Edinburgh with his fiancé Matthew.
Thomas has been honoured to be shortlisted, and to have won a number of awards for his work in the diversity field. This has included being 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 was delighted to win the ‘Pride of The Co- operative’ award in 2012.
A regular contributor to publications, Thomas has written for and contributed articles for many media outlets, including, g3, Gay Star News, Stonewall’s ‘Friends’ magazine, Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 5 Year Review research and publication, GScene and many resource guides.
During his time living in Manchester he was a proud Ambassador for HIV charity George House Trust. He was also a judge for Scotlands biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards, in 2016 and 2017, as well as the One4All Rewards Spotlight Awards.
Thomas was a part of the original team who coordinated the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, Respect. Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and PR from 2010 until his stepping down from the role of Chair of the network 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. During his role as Chair of the ‘Respect’ network it became the most followed employee network in Europe with over 9,400 followers on Twitter at the time of him departing (all within 15 months), and in his time over 1,400 employees became members of the network. It was also the most active network too, supporting over 85 events and raising over £30,000 for charities during his tenure.
Thomas left the network with The Co-operative ranking 3rd (for the second consecutive year) in the prestigious Stonewall Workplace Equality Index and being ranked the number one private sector employer for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. A big jump from the organisations ranking of 112th in the 2009 index before the network was created. The network, supported by a dedicated team of employee volunteers, certainly made a big impact.
He has presented and shared his experience at many diversity and inclusion events including the Stonewall Workplace Conference in Cardiff, an InterEngineering LGBT+ network panel event in London and a staff network event hosted by PwC in Manchester and he was honoured to be invited by Adidas to share his experiences with their LGBT+ staff network at their HQ in Germany.
Thomas organised the ‘Edinburgh Stands with Orlando’ vigil in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, in June 2016 to remember and show respect for the 49 innocent people murdered at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Over 2,000 people attended the vigil where First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party Ruth Davidson addressed the crowd.
Thomas and Pride : Whilst at The Co-op Thomas influenced and coordinated the retail giants support of over 80 LGBT+ events and initiatives around the UK. This included managing The Co-op’s sponsorship of Pride events such as Manchester Pride (sponsors for 6 consecutive years), Liverpool Pride, Student Pride and Sparkle as well as sponsorship and support of events such as the Attitude Awards, Pink News Awards and National AIDS Trust (NAT) annual dinner – and many more. He was also behind The Co-op’s first advert in an LGBT+ magazine (g3 and Attitude) and he developed their national Pride campaign, ‘Making History with Pride’. This campaign was shortlisted for a British LGBT Award for ‘Marketing Campaign of the Year’.
He is a keen journalist and has interviewed a diverse range of people including TV and radio presenter Evan Davis, TV personality and singer Jane McDonald, best-selling author Val McDermid, chart-topping singers Darren Hayes (Savage Garden), Alexandra Burke, Scouting for Girls, Sugababes, Steps, Vengaboys and Shayne Ward, Ru-Paul’s Drag Race stars Bianca Del Rio, Michelle Visage and Courtney Act and a host of other famous faces and inspiring role models.
Thomas launched Inclusive Networks on 20th October 2014 and has seen Inclusive Networks go from strength to strength since then.
Connect with Thomas on Twitter
Media and publicationsA selection of publications Thomas has written for and contributed to
<< ^^ Thomas contributed to the Stonewall ‘Workplace Equality Index Five Year Review’ that was published at the end of 2013. This was in his role as Chair of The Co-operative Group’s ‘Respect Network’.
<< As a big advocate for organisations supporting LGBT Pride events, Thomas was asked to contribute an article to leading news website Gay Star News in the Summer of 2012 – around the time that London Pride was experiencing significant issues, that are now thankfully behind them (they have a new team now). His article, ‘Pride is more than fanfares and floats’, was well received.
Thomas has contributed to a number of workplace publications, including the 2014 edition of ‘OUT at Work’. >>
<< In 2012, leading North West England charity, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF), launched their ‘We Exist’ resources – a guide to getting involved in public life for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Thomas was invited to be the contributor for the ‘Out At Work’ section.
<< Thomas was invited by Stonewall to contribute to their quarterly supporters magazine, ‘Friends’ (Winter 2013 edition). The article featured alongside the feature about the fantastic Stonewall guide, ‘Maintaining Network Group Momentum’, that Thomas also contributed a number of features for.