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National Inclusion Week 2018 – DE&S PRIDE Network

Hayley started the DE&S PRIDE Network over three years ago to promote positive and inclusive practice for its membership, and the wider organisation.

The DE&S Pride Network is tireless in promoting positive and inclusive practice for its membership, and the wider organisation. We welcome individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity. DE&S are currently committed to the Stonewall Come Out for LGBT campaign, with senior Executive Committee members pledging their support through different channels during October. The Network holds a number of events through the year to raise awareness of issues facing the LGBT community, and give our allies the confidence to challenge assumptions and confront inappropriate attitudes and behaviour.

From the DE&S PRIDE Network

Patricia

Being a member of PRIDE has enabled me to build on my network of contacts. This network, in turn not only offered me support and guidance, but also I have been able to offer my own support to PRIDE colleagues. The network helps to promote LGBT+ issues in the workplace and in the community. The visible and active PRIDE network works hard to promote diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, which has many benefits for employees and employer alike.

I joined DE&S as an engineering apprentice, I’d been out for years when I joined DE&S but it was my first ‘proper’ job, the start of an actual career and that made the thought of ‘coming out’ here scary. Like it was the first time all over again.

Luckily for me things ran smoothly, I was an apprentice and on my first placement my ‘buddy’ was an out lesbian. The team I was in were very supportive, and I could freely talk about a core part of my identity. But this was over three years ago and at that time I never saw any mention of LGBT people around the organisation.

By chance I ended up on a course for young LGBT people run by the charity Stonewall, at the end there was a networking event for the course attendees met with employers. I easily spotted the Armed Forces all represented there, I asked where the MOD representation was and was directed to a gentleman standing in the corner where I learned that he was the new chair of the MOD LGBT network and was promised that they were reinvigorating things.

And that happened, MOD did some amazing work that I’m immensely proud to have been involved in but it felt as though it was only accessible if you were inside the M25.

Myself and a colleague began discussing how we could change that, we started small and simple – come up with a name, start doing some lunch time drop in sessions, market stalls in NH2. At every event we held new faces showed up. Often saying the same thing – they didn’t know any other LGBT+ people in DE&S.

So we launched DE&S Pride.

From the DE&S Pride Network

Stephanie

Being a relatively new girl, I’ve only just had my second birthday, it is without any doubt that I would not now being enjoying this wonderful, fulfilling and inclusive life if it was not for the support and kindness given and shown to me by the Pride, Transgender and social groups.

It is this support that gives you the personal confidence to walk proudly into the wide world. The weight that is lifted when you can finally be yourself is immensely liberating and gives such purpose and definition to your life that mind, body and soul all become connected in a beautiful way. I have become much more social, positive and happy and this is very infectious with the people I meet and socialise with in my everyday life. So I encourage the work done by these hardworking groups at DE&S because the more you give the more you will gain in return. Life is beautiful so embrace it but not alone.

In the 3 and a half years since then, we’ve held multiple events to educate our colleagues, social events for members, attended careers fairs and conferences, provided confidential advice and support, organised training and attended Prides, and much, much more. More than I ever dreamed we would in this time.

I remember that first Bristol Pride, it was our first big event and while we’d been given the funding, there were some that didn’t understand why we wanted to go so much – ‘surely everyone knows its fine to be gay and work here nowadays’, was something I heard several times.

The reactions from Bristol Pride were quite different, some people we met didn’t feel like it was a place they would be welcome. We needed to change that.

Three years on the LGBT community are no longer surprised to see us at Pride events, our visible involvement has encouraged individuals from increasingly diverse backgrounds to join DE&S.

From the DE&S PRIDE Network

Hayley

The Pride Network has given me numerous opportunities to develop skills I wouldn’t in my day job, the chance to speak to senior leadership and a space to develop my voice and grow my confidence.

There’s still more to do, we’re very Bristol-centric and we’re working on ensuring that staff at all our outstations have equal opportunity to access the opportunities the network offers. We need to work on ensuring all voices in the LGBT+ community are heard, and work closely with the other diversity networks on intersectional identities.

The Pride Network has given me numerous opportunities to develop skills I wouldn’t in my day job, the chance to speak to senior leadership and a space to develop my voice and grow my confidence.

When we started Pride we feared that if we stopped working at it for a second it would disappear, fail, be declared as something we tried but obviously didn’t actually need, but now – I’ll be stepping down as Chair this year, having watched the Network grow from something that was basically ‘just me and my mate’ to one of the most active, well-established and respected networks in DE&S. Run by passionate DE&S employees with the full support of the organisation, that will exist for long after I step away.

National Inclusion Week 2018
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By |2018-11-23T10:32:04+00:00September 25th, 2018|
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