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Tesco backs UN global standards to help promote the rights of LGBTI people

Alison Horner

Chief People Officer Tesco

26 Jan 2018

How we are ensuring that everyone is welcome at Tesco.

It makes me proud today to be able to add Tesco’s name to a growing group of businesses pledging support to a set of standards developed by the UN to promote the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people. These standards really chime with our purpose, to serve shoppers a little better every day, and one of our core values, to treat people how they want to be treated. They show the important role businesses have in creating an environment where everyone is welcome and people feel able to truly be themselves without fear of judgement or discrimination. In achieving this, we create an environment where colleagues can bring their whole self to work, which benefits businesses by inspiring innovation, improving productivity and delivering outstanding customer service. The Open for Business coalition, of which Tesco is member, published a report which shows how cities that are LGBTI inclusive, are better placed to develop their global economic competitiveness. The UN standards remind me of the huge opportunity we have as an employer of over 450,000 colleagues, serving 79 million customers every week and working with thousands of suppliers around the world, to help advance LGBTI rights.

Why inclusion matters at Tesco

“We treat others how they like to be treated” is one of our core values at Tesco. It's something that guides us in whatever we do. Over 33,000 of our colleagues in the UK alone identify as LGBTI and I want them all to feel able to be themselves when they come to work. I have seen how having a diversity of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives in a room when decisions are made can help ensure we reach the right outcome. That’s why inclusion is a central part of our People strategy at Tesco. We made our commitment to creating an inclusive culture a key target in our new corporate responsibility strategy, the Little Helps Plan.

Supporting colleagues at Tesco

I am extremely proud of our LGBTI colleague network, Out at Tesco, run by colleagues for colleagues to support anyone who identifies as LGBTI. This award winning network offers confidential advice, advocacy support, mentoring and career coaching. They also support and organise networking events up and down the country. It’s now one of the biggest LGBTI networks in Europe with over 3,000 core members. We continue to use our regular ‘What matters to you’ survey to monitor whether colleagues feel Tesco creates an inclusive culture. It’s encouraging that 82% agree, but important to me that every single one of our colleagues feels like they can be themselves without judgement. So this is an area we will continue to work on. The UN standards for tackling discrimination against LGBTI people will act as a valuable guide for where we can have an impact in our workplace and in our communities.

Working with our communities to celebrate being yourself

One of the most fun events I attend as Chief People Officer at Tesco is our Pride celebrations. Where else would you find Tesco colleagues from across the business dancing on a converted Tesco delivery lorry amid clouds of rainbow-coloured smoke? Last year we supported Pride events in 11 cities around the UK and Ireland. We were joined by over 1,000 of our colleagues, and we hope to take part in even more events this year celebrating the power of love and being yourself. Working with our suppliers to sell exclusive Pride products and using proceeds from our F&F Pride t-shirts we were also able to raise money for LGBTI charity, Diversity Role Models, which helps to prevent homophobic and transphobic bullying in UK schools. I’m hugely inspired by the work of organisations like Diversity Role Models and Stonewall, for whom Tesco is a Global Diversity Champion. I believe that working together there is much more we can do.

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