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The importance of active allyship

30 Jun 2022Empowering People
4 minute read

Vodafone’s commitment to inclusion begins by creating a workplace where everyone can truly be themselves and belong, reflecting the customers and communities we serve.

Group Inclusion & Diversity Manager Claire Harvey shares her lived experience and reflects on why it’s more important than ever to be an active ally for the LGBT+ community.

Pride month means different things to different people. For some it is a protest, for others it is a celebration of the depth and breadth of the LGBT+ community. For us at Vodafone, it is an opportunity to recognise the hard work of those who have gone before us, to celebrate our wonderful LGBT+ colleagues and customers, and to demonstrate that we stand with the LGBT+ community.

Inclusion for All is core to who we are at Vodafone and it’s important that we continue to both raise the voices of and listen to our LGBT+ family. We must maintain sustained allyship outside a month or moment of celebrations by improving our understanding of the barriers to belonging and prove our commitment to removing them.

I believe brands have a responsibility to practice active allyship. I loved seeing our colleagues in Spain put their allyship into action last year, when they received homophobic comments in response to their advert. Bringing together employees and influencers from Spain’s LGBT+ community, their response campaign was codesigned and raised voices, and the social media team really showed their allyship in enabling it.

In a global organisation, there are difficult landscapes to navigate when it comes to active allyship. The work we do on the inside is as important as what we communicate to the outside world. We don’t always get it right, but we must take every opportunity to practice inclusion and recognise the intersectionality of each community so that every colleague knows we see them and value them for who they are.

One of the ways we are doing this is by focusing on learning and development at Vodafone. Over the past year we’ve seen 33,000 employees complete the withstander course, across 10 different languages. We have held trans inclusion training and have impactful allyship trainers embedded in our markets to upskill people in a locally relevant way. We fundamentally do not want to see people in silos, so this work sits alongside the Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (REACH) fluency training embedded across our UK and European markets, as well as a suite of learning focused on disability, carers, menopause and mental health.

Training is just one part of the bigger picture of practicing inclusivity; our culture has to provide the opportunity and motivation to put those skills into practice and constantly evolving them to make sure they are working. Embedding inclusion into our policies is key. For example, employees worldwide receive 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Hearing the lived experience of members of our LGBT+ network, like Terry Evetts from our Privacy Team and his experience of adopting children with his partner, we can see this is really valued by our LGBT+ community.

To quote Katia Stathaki, CEO of Vodafone Albania, on a We Are Vodafone podcast on allyship; “it's one thing to say we are open it's another thing to get in somebody else's shoes and really understand what they are going through in the workplace.” Being empathetic in our leadership and our day-to-day roles means we can listen to LGBT+ voices and take meaningful action.

Whatever our personal beliefs, it is important as colleagues we are always respectful, kind and compassionate. We also need to recognise the additional challenges for our people that world events and dynamics create. I believe that now our trans and non-binary community, as well our LGBT+ community who also endure legal persecution, racism, ableism or socio-economic challenge, need our allyship more than ever.

I’m really looking forward to Vodafone Pride, which we mark throughout July with a series of events to help everyone celebrate, learn and reflect on how they can make a difference. Yet we can’t ignore the fact that we’re living, and businesses are operating, in a society where change feels omnipresent in some respects, but frustratingly slow when it comes to tackling inequality and marginalised groups. LGBT+ people around the world are facing hate, challenge, and discrimination in more forms than ever before.

For me, as a gay woman and proud trans ally it can feel overwhelming at times, especially now. But I remember one of my favourite quotes - “Great things happen when a number of small things are brought together” - and I focus on what I can do as an ally, how I can support our colleagues being inclusive, and what we can do at Vodafone.

To find out more about inclusion at Vodafone go to Workplace Equality |

  • Human rights
  • Empowering People
  • Workplace equality

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