When it comes to providing a safe space for LGBTI employees and championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Vodafone is leading the way, and shows no signs of slowing down.

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While some workplaces are minefields for LGBTI people, prompting them to remain closeted as a means to avoid discrimination, other workplaces are actively striving to champion their LGBTI employees, setting up inclusive employee networks and supportive environments.

Vodafone fosters a culture where employees can be themselves every day at work, as they understand the things that make someone different are what makes the difference.

The company aims to ensure its workplace is open, collaborative, and supportive, an environment that allows all of Vodafone’s employees to be themselves and to be celebrated for who they are.

Vodafone’s diverse workforce is also a reflection of its diverse customers.

In July last year, the company formally established ‘Connect’ – Vodafone’s LGBT+ and Friends employee network, as a way to leverage the passion of its extensive network of employees.

Chair of the Connect Network, Rhett Humphreys, says the beautiful thing about the Connect team is that it is truly made up of an amazing mix of the Vodafone employee voice – gay, straight, male, and female, across teams and levels of seniority – he says it is the most amazing kaleidoscope they could hope for.

“Since the launch of the Connect Network, we have seen an enormous level of support across the business,” he says.

“Across the country the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We are increasingly seeing parts of the business become more and more involved in the events and activities we do as a network.”

Rhett adds that for LGBTI employees, having your voice heard and identity celebrated makes a world of difference in the workplace.

“Being able to celebrate bringing your full self to work and having employees at the heart of everything we are doing is just the beginning of creating a truly inclusive company for the LGBTI community,” he says.

“I’m so proud to work for an organisation that supports me and my colleagues in celebrating, advising on issues, and educating colleagues, friends, and allies on LGBTI matters.

Throughout the year there many days and events celebrating members of the LGBTI community, and the Connect Network uses them as opportunities bring Vodafone employees together to share their stories and raise awareness around the LGBTI community.

Whether it be Wear It Purple Day for young people, National Coming Out Day, or Transgender Visibility Day, Vodafone and the Connect Network ensure that all identities and voices are seen and heard.

Connect has also been instrumental in introducing symbols into Vodafone’s workplace environment that reinforce the company’s support for diversity and inclusion.

Perhaps the strongest and most visible of these symbols, the lanyard worn by employees has been given a fabulous, rainbow twist.

While wearing the lanyard is of course optional, the sea of seven colours now lights up Vodafone’s offices and retail stores around the country in the strongest, most visible show of camaraderie for diversity.

Vodafone has also been sponsoring the lifetime achievement award at the annual Australian LGBTI Awards, which commenced last year,  as a way to help shed light on others making a difference in the LGBTI community.

Another strong demonstration of Vodafone’s support for the LGBTI community came with the announcement earlier this year that the company would be a major partner and the official, exclusive mobile service sponsor of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival in 2018.

The Connect Network championed Vodafone’s involvement in Mardi Gras in Sydney, as well as pride celebrations around the country. The company’s message was #BeYourself – a call for employees to be empowered to be themselves at work, regardless of their background, gender, or sexuality.

Eighty staff and executives from around Australia danced alongside the Vodafone float on which Vodafone employee Raine Ingemen from their Hobart contact centre performed.

The exhilarating night saw the company celebrate inclusion and equality, and highlight the strength of their collective voice.

In Vodafone’s most recent employee engagement survey, 88 per cent of employees indicated that the company values and promotes diversity, a result Vodafone is incredible proud of, and one that belongs to the employees.

There is always more to be done, but Vodafone are helping lead the way, and the company says it looks forward to bringing its support to life in more ways this year for employees, customers, and the community alike.

The future is exciting. Ready?

© Star Observer 2018 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex (LGBTI) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.