Ben Haslehurst is a friendly and experienced member of the social media team. He’s a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. He’s also hypermobile, so he can dislocate his body parts when he likes! At weekends you’ll find him playing a brutal version of speed-skating called roller derby. Or he might be taking part in a Gay Pride march. Ben’s identity is all of these things, and he’s proud to be able to just be himself at Vodafone.
In 10 years with the business, Ben’s seen support grow for a lot of different communities, including the LGBT community, as Vodafone has championed diversity. For the past six years, he’s been working in social media communications, using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to build stronger relationships with our customers.
“I’ve seen more support put in place for diversity and inclusion here, including the LGBT community, and there’s also been a bigger push on awareness,” said Ben. “So, for example, our employee handbook discusses having respect for all colleagues and in our people survey we’re asked how comfortable we feel – which shows diversity is taken very seriously.”
We support the LGBT community in a number of ways. In 2012, we launched an LGBT network – or hub – for UK employees, a place to seek support and advice on a variety of LGBT topics within a confidential environment. The opportunities that the LGBT community brings to the business helps shape what we do.
More recently, we also launched a dedicated LGBT platform on Facebook for LGBT and allies – a great place to share interesting content and ideas, and comment within a closed group. The page has been live for only six months, but is already very popular with users, Ben among them.
We’re also a proud partner of Pride festivals and community events around Europe – sponsoring flotillas in Spain and Amsterdam – which Ben feels is an important step in terms of diversity and inclusion.
“Having the LGBT hub is important and it has lots of great resources,” said Ben. “Facebook page is also proving popular – it’s easy for the community to use it and it’s also a closed group, which means only people who are members can view content and post, so this is all in confidence.”
Inclusion is diversity in action – it’s creating a working culture and environment which celebrates and makes the most of the individual differences …Ben we each bring to Vodafone, to the benefit of our customers, each other, shareholders, business partners and the wider communities in which we operate.
“It’s always been easy for me to work here,” he said. “No one has to hide their identity. If people are happy being who they want to be at work, then you see the benefits in the work they do.”