Diversity & Inclusion

Vodafone’s global policy offers 16 weeks paid parental leave to all employees

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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4/12/2021

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“Diversity and inclusion are core to our beliefs and purpose at Vodafone. We are proud to support all families by allowing every parent to have more time with their children, without worrying about the impact on their finances or careers”, Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read said. Which is music to the ears of individuals such as Chris Parkinson, a Senior Government Affairs Manager here at Vodafone UK. Chris is expecting his second child this summer and the new equal parental policy will leave he will be able to take more paternity leave. Chris shared, “The new policy will allow me to support my wife and both of our children for far longer. She will be able to re-start her business more quickly. And I will be able to bond with the new baby and continue to bond with our eldest. It will also allow me to take a more equal role in caring responsibilities when we first become new parents”. Join Vodafone today and have the opportunity to be part of something amazing #TogetherWeCan. To read the full article, click the button below. Search Jobs   Read Full Article

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Father and employee, Chris Parkinson, says Vodafone’s equal parenting policy makes him feel proud.

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International Women's Day 2021at Vodafone UK

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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3/9/2021

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To mark International Women’s Day this year, we want to shine a light on all the inspirational women at Vodafone and the amazing people who support them. This isn’t just about our high-flyers or the ‘usual’ faces: we want to uncover the people doing extraordinary things in their everyday life, the #ExtraordinaryInTheOrdinary. Want to know more about Life at Vodafone? Click the button below! Tell me more!   

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Celebrations of International Women's Day 2021at Vodafone UK. Shining a light on Vodafone's truly inspiration women. We #ChooseToChallenge.

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OUTstanding’s LGBT+ Role Model List 2020 honours Vodafone UK employee

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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1/19/2021

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Software Engineer James D’Rozario recognised for his training, mentoring and fundraising efforts. James D’Rozario, a software engineer at Vodafone UK, has been included in the OUTstanding LGBT+ Future Leaders Role Model List 2020. OUTstanding is part of INvolve, a global network promoting diversity and inclusion in business.  James, who joined Vodafone UK as a graduate in 2017, has been instrumental in numerous initiatives both inside and outside the company. He helped establish Vodafone’s LGBT+ Friends Network in London and helped lead the company’s LGBT+ inclusion training for graduates and apprentices. Outside Vodafone, James partnered with Career Accelerator to help organise LGBT+ mentors for disadvantaged schoolchildren in London to encourage them to pursue tech careers. He has also raised more than £35,000 for LGBT+ charities, while working on podcasts for Hidayah, Mermaids and Micro Rainbow. OUTstanding’s LGBT+ Role Model Lists, which are supported by Yahoo Finance, showcase future leaders who are successful in business and also make a significant contribution to LGBT+ inclusion in the UK, Ireland, Europe, Canada and the US. James said: “Being recognised as an OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Model is not just professionally significant, but deeply personal, too. When joining Vodafone, it was my hope that sharing my personal story would inspire others to be their authentic selves.  “I have learnt self-love, confidence and a gained sense of community I’ve never experienced before, and with this external recognition I only hope to reach more LGBT+ people with my work to show that we can be both proud and successful. “I must extend a huge thank you to Vodafone’s LGBT+ Friends Network, the Diversity & Inclusion team, and Vodafone’s management for their support and encouragement. It truly does feel like together we are trailblazers for inclusivity in the technology industry.”  Vodafone UK’s efforts as a LGBT-inclusive employer have been recognised by Stonewall, which ranked the company highly in its 2020 Workplace Equality Index at number 19. Vodafone UK also supports its trans customers with help such as a simplified ‘Name Change’ process. Read More on our News Centre   Join us

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We wanted to take this opporuitniy to recognise very own Software Engineer, James d’Rozario who has been included in the OUTstanding LGBT+ Future Leaders Role Model List 2020!

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Promoting women in the workplace: Lots achieved, lots more to do

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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10/6/2020

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Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK, reflects on the company's success at attracting and supporting women in the workplace, but acknowledges that there is much more to do. It was a great pleasure speaking at Westminster Insight’s Women Mean Business event on Monday, discussing how we can all do more to support women’s progress in the workplace. This is a topic close to my heart, not only because I wholeheartedly support Vodafone’s pledge to become the Best Employer for Women by 2025, but also because I sit on the Women’s Business Council, helping to promote women’s roles and advising companies on how best to do so. In my near 10 years at Vodafone, I’ve seen a lot of progress. We’ve achieved 50:50 gender balance on our UK board, and we’ve exceeded our target of 30% females in senior leadership positions. Now we’ve set a new target of 45% senior female representation by 2030. We’ve constantly emphasised that technology is not solely the preserve of men. From Michelle Willis, Head of Technology Operations, to award-winning engineers like Natasha Carpenter, we have women in all roles helping to run one of the UK’s most successful technology companies. They are integral to a business that is driving the adoption of the very latest technologies – 5G, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things – and which is also winning awards left, right and centre! I believe our achievements stem from our commitment to enabling women at all stages of their careers and celebrating their successes. The big picture How have we done this? Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, we’ve had active support from senior leadership. At Group level, our former CEO Vittorio Colao was a massive advocate for women and pioneered industry-leading maternity leave policies and our ‘Reconnect’ programme supporting women back into the workplace after career breaks. And current Group CEO Nick Read and the board have introduced some spectacular initiatives, such as our new Global Parental Leave policy that will offer Vodafone employees – in each of the 24 countries where we operate – a minimum of 16 weeks of paid leave. The UK version of the policy is scheduled to come into force in 2021. In the UK, CEO Nick Jeffery took personal responsibility to drive the creation of our 50:50 gender-balanced board. I’ve enjoyed working with all my colleagues over the years, but the dynamic has certainly shifted now that we have more women in senior roles. Secondly, we’ve made this everyone’s issue, because building an inclusive culture that benefits everyone is everyone’s responsibility. It doesn’t work if it is just “HR’s job”. And gender diversity does benefit the entire company – there’s plenty of evidence to back this up now. Equality and inclusion programmes and mandatory training for colleagues at all levels – not just senior management – are a key part of this ‘all for one’ approach. And, in the days when we could hold events, receiving the active support of our male colleagues for activities like International Women’s Day has helped create a positive energy. And thirdly, we’ve taken a cold hard look at the issues that hold women back and prevent them from progressing at work, commissioning research to inform our policies and spread best practice. We’ve examined how we recruit, how we train, how we support women on maternity leave and those who want to return after having children or taking a career break. We’ve studied and challenged the outdated attitudes that subtly suggest to girls and young women that STEM [science, technology, engineering, maths] subjects and careers aren’t for them. Our support for the CodeLikeAGirl programme, that teaches girls and young women aged 14-18 how to code, is just one example of how we’re tackling these outdated gender-based attitudes. So we’ve looked at the whole picture, in other words. And this picture, of course, includes men. Gender pay gap We’ve done a lot that we should be rightly proud of. But some issues are stubbornly resistant to change, and one of those is the gender pay gap – the difference in average earnings between men and women. At Vodafone, we’re making progress: this year, our gender pay gap was calculated as 10.9%. In 2018, it was 16.1%. But I believe we can do better if we tackle the number one reason why this gap is so persistent – the unequal distribution of caring responsibilities. Balancing family and career has always been difficult for women. Lockdown has only made it harder, as thousands found ‘teacher’ being added to their job description! Our radical new parental leave policy is attempting to redress this imbalance, enabling men and secondary carers to take a greater role in caring and so give women the space to progress at work. Flexible working The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed many businesses’ attitudes towards flexible and remote working. We’ve shown that with the right digital technology and collaboration software people can be just as – if not more – effective working from home than in an office. But in this ‘new normal’ situation we need to make doubly sure we’re providing the right kind of support for our colleagues, some of whom may find home working difficult for a number of reasons. Sadly, some may be in abusive relationships where the pressure-cooker environment of home in lockdown is stressful or even dangerous. During the crisis, we’ve been running regular check-ins to ask people what they need, practically and emotionally. In summary Here are the key points to achieve success: • Secure the commitment of senior leaders – they must become champions for change. • Use employee networks to listen, learn and exchange ideas – do you really know what your female colleagues are thinking and how they are feeling? • Create an open culture – in October, we’re launching the Withstander Programme, encouraging our people to call out non-inclusive behaviours when they witness them. We will also promote “active allyship”, which highlights the role that our people can play in supporting their colleagues. • Network – we can achieve so much more when we look beyond our own organisation’s boundaries and learn from other companies. Making sure women feel involved, valued and supported is better for them and much better for us as a company. We’ve made a great start at Vodafone, but there’s obviously more we can do. Let’s all help make the changes we need to make. Interested in joining the Vodafone team? Click below to view all jobs.                        Search Jobs

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Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK, reflects on the company's success at attracting and supporting women in the workplace, but acknowledges that there is much more to do.

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Vodafone signs up to Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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10/2/2020

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Vodafone UK has signed up to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme supporting people with disabilities that may not be so obvious to the casual observer. Many people with a disability use or carry something – whether that’s a wheelchair, guide dog, hearing aid or white cane – that visibly indicates what the disability might be. But other disabilities, such as autism, dementia, mental health issues or learning difficulties, are not so obvious. Under the Hidden Disability Sunflower scheme, people with such disabilities can choose to wear a lanyard bearing a sunflower logo as a subtle way of letting others know that they may require additional support, assistance or time. All Vodafone UK retail store staff have now received training on how to interact appropriately with customers who have hidden disabilities. “We are thrilled that Vodafone has joined the Sunflower Scheme to recognise its colleagues and customers who have a hidden disability,” said chief executive Paul White. “By recognising the sunflower and its meaning to the wearer, colleagues and customers will receive a greater sense of wellbeing and understanding while working in or visiting your stores.” Vodafone employees have been trained to offer help by: taking more time at the till;speaking face-to-face to allow for lip-reading;using clear and easy-to-understand language;helping with hard-to-reach products;making others aware a person may be struggling or having behavioural issues. There are more than 3.7 million disabled people who work in the UK, and Vodafone employs around 1,200 people with disabilities. Vodafone encourages new recruits to join VodABILITY – the company’s Employee Network – which supports the understanding of disabilities. The network provides support for, and raises awareness of, all types of disability, whether physical, mental, visible or non-visible. Shelley Malton, Customer Services and Operations Director, Vodafone UK, and Executive Sponsor of our VodABILITY Network, said:  “I am delighted that Vodafone UK has signed up to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme to support people with hidden disabilities. Interested in joining the Vodafone Team? Click below to view all jobs.                        Search Jobs

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Vodafone UK has signed up to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme supporting people with disabilities that may not be so obvious to the casual observer.

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Introducing the diaries of our virtual recruits

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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9/21/2020

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During the lockdown, we continued to hire across the globe. We’ve continued to conduct interviews and we’ve continued to welcome new members into our teams. But this time it’s virtual.  Since the start of lockdown our digital journeys have been accelerated. We have welcomed over 345 new joiners in Vodafone Group-UK, alone. Our face-to-face interviews have moved to Skype and although many of our assessments were already online, more focus has gone into upskilling recruiters and improving the virtual assessment experience.  A lot has changed. Not just for our recruiting teams, but for our new joiners as well. Imagine joining a company without physically meeting anyone. Without ever stepping foot in your office. This has been the reality for many employees around the world. As we went into lockdown, we asked our new joiners to document their experience of joining a company virtually. We wanted to hear the truth about their excitement and concern in these uncertain times, and it’s been great to see from their video logs, that the experience has been positive.  This is how we #StayConnected while we #StayHome. In order to accommodate our new virtual lives, all of our new joiners are now invited to a virtual-induction which is spread out over the first week. They receive their IT equipment before day one, with clear guidance on how to set it up, and are involved in a week full of various activities and sessions to help them get started, feel included and get to know Vodafone better. Our employees have been inventing new ways to continue regular work-life, from home. From virtual cafés to surprise birthday cake deliveries. There are some perks to working from home. Like popping to your favourite bakery in between meetings or soaking up some well-needed vitamin D on a beautiful day. In many ways, these uninvited circumstances have brought us together in ways we didn’t expect. We’ve seen virtual yoga sessions, global webinars, we’ve even shifted from cards to videos for birthdays and those leaving us.  We appreciate these times are hard on everyone, but if you are currently looking for a new start, know that our recruitment process is all ready to go, from home. Check out our available opportunities now.  Search Careers 

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Here's how our new joiners have been getting on during lockdown!

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Vodafone makes it into Times Top 50 Employers for Women list fourth year running!

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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8/3/2020

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The Times Top 50 Employers for Women list, compiled in partnership with Business in the Community, is the longest running – and most widely respected – award for employers committed to achieving gender equality at work.Charlotte Woodworth, Gender Equality Campaign Director at Business in the Community, said: “This year marks 10 years of the awards, and the bar was especially high.“A decade of expertise and experience underpins Business In the Community’s assessment, which sees organisations reviewed across a wide range of areas including transparency around pay practices, family friendly policies, and to what extent the gender equality agenda is embedded into wider strategy.” Vodafone’s global aimVodafone’s goal is to become the best employer for women in the world by 2025. Last year, Helen Lamprell, General Counsel & External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK, said: “We’re on the right track. We aim to support women at every stage of their professional lives – in the workplace, and before starting a career as well.”The aim of the telecoms company is to connect 50 million women living in emerging markets to help improve their lives, as well as reconnecting women back into work.As part of this ambition, Vodafone set a revised global target for women to hold 45% of management and leadership roles by 2030.As of 31 March 2020, women held 31% of management and leadership roles across the markets Vodafone operates in. And Vodafone UK’s board, below chief executive level, is equally split between men and women.Late last year, Vodafone also announced that all employees worldwide will be offered 16 weeks of fully-paid parental leave. This new initiative gives parents the opportunity to spend more time with their new child, as well as giving their partners some relief. How Vodafone is helping women The ReConnect programme, which Vodafone launched in 2018, is designed to help professional women who have taken a career break get back into work.The scheme includes training and coaching to refresh and enhance returning professionals’ skills – helping them progress further in their careers. Those who join Vodafone are also offered flexible working options and a phased return to work.Last year, Vodafone launched an internal Domestic Abuse Policy that supports employees experiencing domestic abuse by providing support, guidance and paid safe leave.Victims are encouraged to speak to their managers and can record any leave they take as a result as generic annual leave to ensure confidentiality. This leave is not deducted from their annual leave entitlement.Feedback from employees has been positive – the move has helped managers to understand what they can pro-actively do to support their team members in difficult situations. Encouraging girls from a young ageOver recent years, Vodafone has also been on a mission to tackle the lack of girls taking science, technology, enginering and maths (STEM) subjects in school or college. Since its launch in 2017, Vodafone’s #CodeLikeAGirl programme has reached more than 3,000 girls in 23 markets.As part of the programme, Vodafone offers girls aged 14–18 a one-week digital course where they learn to code a website.Vodafone has also made a firm commitment to champion the education of refugee girls through an innovative Instant Network Schools program that has given over 83,500 young refugee students access to a quality digital education.Keep up to date on our latest news by following us on social...FacebookInstagram TwitterLinkedIn! 

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Vodafone makes it into The Times Top 50 list of Employers for Women for the fourth year running. The prestigious list commends organisations who are at the forefront of gender equality within the work place.

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Domestic Abuse: An Employee Perspective

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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5/21/2020

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It’s early January 2013. A horrible time of year for most; the grey days stretching on, waiting for payday. I hadn’t been ‘home’ for a week – and now I was walking down the same narrow street as always, except this time, there were shards of what used to be my favourite Batman mug under my feet. Although I cannot remember the exact date, this was the single hardest day of my life. A week before, I had absent-mindedly checked Twitter whilst at work. On my timeline, there were the latest tweets from my long-term partner, who had a little more time on his hands at work that day. His timeline had become increasingly passive-aggressive and I knew it was directed at me. In the early days, he was always nice to me. Kind, considerate. We started seeing one another and eventually, we moved in together – I was 21, he was 25. Around this time, he got into trouble with the police and lost his job. He always maintained he didn’t do it – I believed him. Unemployed, he began drinking more in the evenings, finishing twelve-packs of beer easily. He didn’t want to start looking for a job. He was depressed. It was all too much. Of course, I felt awful for him. I carried on working, paying the rent and bills. Time went by, he had his day in court – he didn’t want me there. He was convicted of a non-violent crime and received a suspended sentence and electronic tag, which also meant he had a curfew. No leaving the house after 8pm. So he’d sit and drink all night. He made a lot of ‘jokes’ during this time, which were more thinly veiled threats. ‘If you ever got fat, I’d leave you.’ He’d constantly comment on women’s appearance, there are clothes I wouldn’t have dared wear due to his judgement. When his electronic tag was finally removed, he managed to get a job. Things definitely got worse – any little thing would set him off. He’d go silent, or explode in a rage, often throwing things and then leave the room, lying down on the bed and just staring at the ceiling. The air was constantly tense, walking on eggshells. I’d get home from work and not be sure what mood he’d be in. When I started making friends at my new job, he’d wait for me after work and hover outside until I was finished – ensuring I wouldn’t go for a drink with my colleagues and make sure they knew who he was. I’d have to ‘warn’ him of upcoming nights out weeks in advance or he’d go silent on me again or make passive aggressive comments after searching my colleague’s Facebook profiles. When we finally did have our monthly night out, I’d find him standing in the road waiting for me to get home. The day I read his tweets was the day I finally knew it was time. He’d been going through my phone when I was in bed. His behaviour changed almost overnight, he became suffocating ‘nice’ but so unlike him, even when we’d first started dating. He realised he was losing his grip on me. I spoke to my manager and said I needed to run home whilst he was at work and grab some stuff. Realising the importance of the situation, she asked if I wanted to take a close colleague with me in an hour when we had cover or go right now. Adrenaline pumping through me, I was scared I’d chicken out, so I went right then, knowing he was at work. When I got to the flat, I filled a bag with everything I didn’t want to lose – some clothes, medication, my favourite book and my childhood teddy bear. Everything else I wrote off in the back of my mind. I closed the door behind me and practically ran back I sent him a text saying I’d seen his tweets and that we should spend some time apart. Of course, he continued messaging me throughout the day, but I knew his form well enough by now and ignored him. He kept pressuring me to meet up, to talk – I wasn’t ready. A week or so later, I agreed. Against my better judgement – I went to the flat. He’d thrown some of my things from the balcony, including the Batman mug. He tried to convince me to stay, but I was resolute. At this time, I still didn’t recognise any of the signs of abuse, even though some of his behaviour had escalated to a point where I knew it wasn’t normal. I left that day with more of my belongings but it could have gone so much worse. If I had identified the red flags in our relationship I may have realised sooner, but I just didn’t know. Emotionally coercive and manipulative behaviour – gas-lighting – wasn’t mentioned when domestic abuse came up. It took me a long time to process what had happened, even now, I have nightmares and flashbacks. But – 2013 was the happiest year of my life. Without the threat of a flared temper, the constant tension and walking on eggshells, I was free. I was also very lucky – I had an amazing support network of colleagues who became friends and then family, plus my own family. I didn’t go back to him, but there was definitely a time in those following muddled weeks where I considered it. Without support, a backslide would have been all too easy. Domestic abuse doesn’t have to involve violence, nor does it happen to a specific group or personality. I have always been strong willed, known my own mind, yet it happened to me without anyone knowing. Victims are adept at hiding it because it is their norm. Because they don’t see the red flags, their abuser has manipulated them so slowly that it doesn’t seem strange. This is why we don’t just leave. There is no simple solution in any situation, no matter how obvious it may seem to the outsider. Six years on, I am happier and more successful with my freedom. My time with him was certainly damaging – not all wounds heal – however it also wasn’t defining. It certainly made me more resilient, more understanding and more patient. I’m good at being alone because I was for a very long time. This is the first time I have ever written this story down – and this isn’t the entirety. However, I do promise there is always life beyond now. There is life beyond what is and what seems impossible. It’s not easy nor is it clean. As certain as the sun rising tomorrow, life will go on. How, is up to you. If you are experiencing domestic abuse, please remember that you are not alone. Vodafone UK are committed to supporting employees experiencing domestic violence and abuse. Last year, we launched our Domestic Violence and Abuse Policy which provides information, support and guidance regarding domestic abuse.  If you are in an emergency, please call 999 for urgent support. You can also contact following services to access support and advice: ·       The National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 ·       ManKind on 01823 334 244 for men ·       Galop on 0800 999 5428 for specialist LGBT+ support ·       The Vodafone Employee Assistance programme on 0800 243 458 ·       Download the Bright Sky app <!--[if !supportLists]-->

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Vodafone’s Domestic Violence and Abuse Policy offers specialist support and time off to employees experiencing domestic abuse. One Vodafone employee shares their experience.

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How Vodafone supports our working parents during difficult times

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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5/6/2020

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Today (6th May) marks World Maternal Mental Health Day. Here in the UK, it is also Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week (4th – 10th May), organised by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership.   Perinatal mental health (a mother’s emotional and psychological wellbeing throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond) is often misunderstood, despite approximately 1 in 10 women being affected. Postnatal depression is thankfully discussed more openly nowadays, but women can also suffer from anxiety, psychosis, PTSD, adjustment disorders, OCD, and other chronic mental illnesses, after carrying, bearing or losing a baby. And sadly not everyone will receive the correct support.   At Vodafone, we recognise the importance of helping our colleagues through any wellbeing challenges they may face at any time. We are also passionate about guiding parents on the tricky balance of work and caring responsibilities. Our support is especially critical when those two components combine, which is why we are actively raising awareness of these maternal mental health campaigns amongst our people this week.   However, we’re not just talking about it for one week! We already have an excellent range of family-friendly policies and some amazingly supportive employee networks. Of course, the current climate will have exacerbated the struggle for working parents, so, now more than ever, we must take extra care of our colleagues’ emotional wellbeing – by updating policies, sharing the burden and getting it done together. Here’s a snapshot of how we’re helping our parents to weather the storm: ·       Our existing Employee Assistance Programme offers confidential 24/7 support for personal or work-related problems, free of charge for all employees and immediate family members.·       Our new Remote GP Benefit ensures employees can continue to receive medical treatment. The service is available to all employees and their dependents, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.·       We have evolved our Compassionate & Unexpected Care Leave Policy so that employees can take leave flexibly.·       We’ve updated our Parental Leave policy, so that time can be taken in days, not just full weeks.·       Our Ready Parents and Carers Network provides colleagues with practical and emotional peer-to-peer support, including tips on working from home and keeping the kids entertained.  ·       Our Wellbeing network is an inclusive internal group that connects colleagues, share advice and signpost to support.·       We’re supporting the work of the UK charity Best Beginnings to increase awareness of its NHS-endorsed app, which provides advice, resources and even appointment reminders for new and expectant parents. All of these services remain available for any colleagues on maternity (or shared parental) leave, so our brand new mums and dads can stay in touch and seek help if they’re struggling. Right now, the most powerful thing we can do is to #stayconnected with each other and really listen to our people’s needs. Vodafone is working hard each day to create this inclusive and flexible culture for all.#maternalmhmatters #supportingmumsduringdifficulttimes

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We recognise the importance of helping colleagues through any wellbeing challenges they may face at any time, as well as guiding parents on that tricky balance of work and caring responsibilities. Find out what we’re doing in support of maternal mental health.

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Belonging & Inclusion in Isolation and Distancing: How can you support your colleagues?

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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4/8/2020

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The circumstances we are currently living in are unprecedented. Half of the world's population is on lockdown and over 1 million people globally have been diagnosed with Covid-19. There are so many angles to a pandemic, the most commendable being the daily heroics of people within our NHS. It seems pertinent to ask, during this time of self-isolation and social distancing, what are the implications on inclusion and belonging? Stonewall recently said, "Whenever something happens, there are always those of us who face additional barriers through being more excluded than others." Certain groups will experience specific issues and it is important to ensure we are able to support colleagues from these groups to the best of our ability. At Vodafone, we define inclusion as an environment where everyone is respected for their different viewpoints and backgrounds. We define belonging as feeling accepted, appreciated and part of the team. It is a human need and increases motivation, health and happiness. Self-isolation and social distancing are not the opposite of belonging and inclusion, not unless we make them so. We must avoid being exclusionary now, more than ever. We must see this is an opportunity to make colleagues feel more included and we must reassure colleagues that we are here to support them. Vodafone have a zero tolerance approach to any kind of discriminatory behaviour, and we continue to emphasise our commitment towards inclusion for all. At Vodafone, we embrace and welcome everyone. For more information on diversity and inclusion, click here. 

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Hear from our Global Culture & Inclusion Manager and UK Diversity & Inclusion Manager on the support available at Vodafone during this time of isolation.

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You have the power to change the workplace

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Diversity & Inclusion

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blogs

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10/19/2018

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I think a portion of my upbringing was relatively “normal”, with a nuclear family consisting of me, my half-sister from my mum’s first marriage, my mum and my dad. We lived in a nice house, went on family holidays each year and often had sibling style squabbles with my sister, one time she even put me in a suit case and threw me down the stairs; but that’s what little brothers are there for right?!   However, my Dad’s “coming out” was not a simple one for anyone in my family to say the least. I was in Year Five at school, nine years old when I found out - and I was the last person in the family to know. I was having a childish argument with a neighbour and was thrown back with “At least my Dad’s not gay!”. My sister, only four and half years my senior, had to sit me down and explain what being gay meant and that my Dad was actually gay. On reflection, I don’t think I truly understood the impact of this at the time, but also in the same breadth my 14-year-old sister having to comprehend and explain this to me really astonishes me. It wasn’t until a year or so after that I told my Dad how I found out about him being gay.   My Dad’s sexuality didn’t really become an impact for me until his boyfriend moved in a couple of years after his coming out. We both knew that having a gay father had the possibility of opening the door to bullying from other children, as I received from when I found out about his sexuality. So for many years my dad’s boyfriend was known as “The Lodger” in the house. When I was fifteen, I did confide in one my best friends and after a few months, this news had spread round my friendship group. At the time, I was very hurt and concerned what the fallout would be, but I never got any negative comments from my friendship group about the situation. To be honest, it was never spoken about, which may appear to signal I wasn’t supported, but my friends understood I didn’t really want it made a big deal of at that age and I am so very grateful. I didn’t really come to terms with my own sexuality until around the age of sixteen when I started to think about it more and started to have confidential conversations with close friends and everyone was always very supportive of me. I am not going to sugar coat things, I did get the odd comment from strangers I came in into contact with, however with my hardy personality and my exceedingly dry sarcasm, I never had any issue in shutting the negativity down. Having an LGBT+ parent is actually a very positive thing; it enabled me to be very open minded when it came understanding who I love and not having to feel that I have to be in a heterosexual relationship. Although this is not exclusive to having an LGBT+ parent, my Mum would always say to me “When you find that person that you love”. This is one thing I have to encourage any parent, please use open language with your children, let them know you will love them no matter the gender of their partner. By doing this, you will allow them to grow up knowing they can love who they want and will be a lot more forthcoming as it has already put the groundwork in to remove that fear of potentially difficult conversations. I always find “Coming out” such a funny phrase, as to me, it sounds like there is a massive surprise party with balloons and banners and it’s a one-time occasion. In my case, I came out to my Dad, my Sister and my Mum at different times and in very different ways. When I joined the LGBT+ network when I was in Retail five years ago, I was lucky enough to win a trip to Amsterdam Pride with Vodafone Netherlands. I called my Dad to let him know and I said I had won it through the network and he asked me how come I had joined; my response? “Look Dad, you know, I know you know, let’s not make a big deal of it, alright?”. He just laughed and that was that. Later on that year, I was having drinks with my Sister for her birthday and I told her, she was so happy I had come out to her and wished I had told her sooner, but also called me a thunder stealer for coming out on her birthday! The sibling banter forever lives on. My Mum, on the other hand, was the hardest person to come out to, people always assume having a gay parent makes coming out a total breeze; however, what about the other parent, whose life was turned upside by finding out their partner was gay? I didn’t actually have the power to come out to my Mum, I had actually come back from Uni after having a relationship break down and she was the one who asked me if it was with a guy and as soon as I said “Yes” and broke down into tears. Due to what had happened with my Dad, I felt like coming out to her would have added insult to injury and didn’t want to hurt her any further. She dispelled this fear as soon as I said it, she was my mum, she loved me no matter what. As you can see here, coming out is not just different for different people, but also different to the people they come out to. I believe my relatively unique/complicated upbringing has actually me a very well rounded person and has enabled me to be very open minded when it comes to building relationships with people. We can never make assumptions on people based on how things appear on the outside, be this the happy family in a four-bedroom house who go on holidays, to the person who is always smiling and chatty. Things could be happening behind closed doors and effecting people quietly, always be supporting, engaging and always try and understand things from their perspective. For me, being exposed to a wide range of situations and relationships has given me the drive to support others who are or have been in similar situations. Being involved in the LGBT+ Network at Vodafone isn’t just for me, but also for people like my Dad. I know him coming out at work was one of the hardest things for him to do, especially after being married in a heterosexual relationship and having children. People always ask why we need an LGBT+ network at work, but if a colleague came out to you like this, do you think you’d take that news without blinking? This is the type of change in perspective and perception I want to try and influence. I don’t want anyone to read this as a sob story as this is never how I see it. I am so extremely thankful for how I was brought up and for all my experiences, positive and negative, as they have truly made me the person I am today. It has empowered me to build genuine and authentic relationships with people, in and out of work, due to the fact I am accepting of everyone and their backgrounds. If there is every anything you are unsure of, ask the question (appropriately) and gain the knowledge, the understanding and the perspective. Society has moved along from when I was a child and being LGBT+ is much more accepted these days, however, there is still much more to do. You have the power to change this in the workplace, but also anyone who has children, nephews/nieces, grandchildren, godchildren… the list goes on. You have the ability to empower this generation: they can love who they want, be open minded and supportive to those around them. Being LGBT+, even as a child, doesn’t just affect the individual, but those around them and should never be subject to bullying or prejudice. 

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Society has moved along from when I was a child and being LGBT+ is much more accepted these days

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Kate Ward

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Kate Ward

As an Ally, my perception of inclusion has changed

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Diversity & Inclusion

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9/19/2018

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My name is Lucia Bellanti, and I work in Vodafone Group Enterprise Commercial and Operations as an External Communications and Engagement Specialist. I first started at Vodafone as a graduate 2 years ago and have undertaken a variety of interesting roles, but it was my most recent which definitely gave me the chance to develop personally. The role allowed me to experience new opportunities and expand my thinking, for example in March 2018, I undertook a Stonewall Ally Programme. It wasn’t event meant for me, I was only there to help, but I managed to join in the group and it was one of the most eye-opening days I’ve had since joining Vodafone. The whole day aimed to explore what it means to be an authentic and inclusive ally to LGBT+ people in the workplace. I come from what I thought was quite an open background but, it turns out, living in a small village in Italy isn’t that open-minded as I thought, and I had loads of biases that I didn’t even realise. I didn’t know half of the terms Stonewall explained to us on the day or that LGBT+ people had to face so many issues when entering the workplace. At the end of the day, I was able to acknowledge what my biases were and how to act on them. We all made a pledge as active allies and mine was “As an LGBT Ally, I am supportive and the one thing I commit to is making my graduate community aware of this session and the change each one of us can make for LGBT”. A few months later, Vodafone commissioned an international research from Out Now surveying more than 3,000 LGBT+ young people across 15 countries and multiple industries, and found that; "31% of LGBT people admitted they went back into the closet when they started their first job. This figure rises to 41% among 18-25 year olds”.  This data was shocking to many, myself included. For this reason and to act on my pledge, we decided to partner with Stonewall to hold a full day of training with our 400 UK-based Graduates, Columbus graduates and Apprentices across all streams, which we named LGBT: Discover Inclusive Leadership. We want to make the most of our youth community because as Vodafone’s future leaders, we want to leverage this diversity to build an inclusive culture, where everyone is respected, can be themselves and strive to be their best. That way we can create a better future for our employees, our partners, the communities we work in and our customers. This is a pioneering programme as it covers LGBT+ and the power of allies in one session. It gives our youth the knowledge to speak confidently about LGBT+ inclusion and helps them to identify practical ways to ensure that everyone they work with is able to reach their full potential. I can definitely say that organising these days, has been one of my proudest moments at Vodafone and I’m so glad I was given the chance to make it happen. As an Ally, my perception of inclusion has definitely changed and the way I consider minorities, not just LGBT+, in the workplace and outside it has definitely changed thanks to this training. Because of this, I’ve also had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people that have shared their experiences with me and helped me throughout this personal journey. My advice to everyone is: if you think you’re already an inclusive and accepting person, challenge yourself and learn more, you can always be more inclusive! 

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My name is Lucia Bellanti, and I work in Vodafone Group Enterprise Commercial and Operations as an External Communications and Engagement Specialist.

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Kate Ward

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Kate Ward