Our LGBT & Friends Network has been working to celebrate transgender people within the business and raising awareness of the challenges and discrimination that they can encounter, all in light of the Transgender Day of Visibility 2017.
Vodafone recognise the importance of diversity and inclusion. Our LGBT & Friends Network has been working to celebrate transgender people within the business and raising awareness of the challenges and discrimination that they can encounter, all in light of the Transgender Day of Visibility 2017. This is also a day for friends and allies to show their support for the transgender community.
To mark the day, our Customer Service and Operations Director – Neil Blagden, went to Manchester earlier this week to chair an LGBT & Friends panel discussion on supporting transgender colleagues and customers. He was joined by our own Sue Preston from Vodafone Group Technology, as well as Daniel Hooper (Environment Agency) and Sera-Jane Cooley (Ombudsman Services). Participating in the discussion were colleagues from Manchester, Leeds, Stoke, Newark, Bracknell and our retail teams. Trans Staffordshire and Barclays also came to hear more on the discussion.
For many, this can be a sensitive topic and Neil said how impressed he was by the way the panel talked about their own experiences and the practical ways we can all support.
One of the key areas the panel provided clarity on was the language we use, in particular, clarifying the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity:
• Sexual orientation – a person’s emotional, romantic and / or sexual attraction to another person.
• Gender identity – a person’s internal deeply held sense of their own gender. For trans people, their own sense of who they are does not match the sex that society assigns to them when they are born.
• Gender expression – the ways in which people manifest their gender. For example, through what they wear, how they speak and how they act.
This is an important distinction, as someone who has transitioned (i.e. male to female or female to male) could also identify as lesbian, gay or bi-sexual. Gender identity is therefore different from sexual orientation.
The discussion also provided useful guidance for employees and managers as well on how we support transgender customers:
• Employees within Vodafone that may be considering transitioning were reminded of the people within the business who they can reach out to for support, guidance and information. Within the LGBT & Friends Network there are a number of employees that can provide support, as well as give advice to employees who may have a friend or family member who is transitioning.
• Awareness was raised for manager’s that every transition is unique and that they should tailor their approach to best support the individual’s needs. This can be in relation to the language used towards the employee or name changing processes that can be a source of distress for the employee.
• Vodafone want to be sure that their LGBT customers are treated the same as all other customers whilst considering the additional requirements they may have. Tips were given such as taking the customer’s lead on language preference, avoid gendered greetings such as ‘sir/madam’ and to never assume that you can identify a person as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender from their voice, appearance or any other consideration.
The LGBT & Friends Network has produced a set of guidelines and tools to support managers and employees on transgender topics and how to embed LGBT inclusion into customer care.
Transgender Day of Visibility 2017 will be celebrated across Vodafone UK. As a diverse and inclusive organisation it is crucial for us to show support, acceptance, respect and appreciation to our employees, managers, customers and friends. We want them to encourage them to be themselves and to let them know that the business will be accepting of all employees regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.