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What Pride means for FM

07 June 2024

Amanda Vlietstra asked three FM companies – OCS, Pareto and Sodexo UK – what Pride month means to them.

June is Pride month – the month of the year dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities all round the world. It’s a time of fun and celebration, with parades organised all across the UK – but for businesses, it’s also an opportunity to show that they’re serious about diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“Rainbow-washing” has been an accusation that’s been levelled at the business community in the past – the idea that they’re only supporting Pride to tick an ESG box, or for marketing and commercial gains – but it’s clear from talking to organisations in the FM sector that this is far from being the case. Spokespeople from three major FM businesses told PFM what Pride means to them…

“Rainbow washing doesn’t cut it anymore!”
Kristian Batten, Continuous Improvement Manager & LGBTQ+ & Gender Identity CHROMA Chairperson, OCS

Pride is essential to OCS because it aligns with our OCS TRUE Values of Trust, Respect. Unity and Empowerment. Pride creates an inclusive environment where every colleague at OCS can feel valued and that they can bring their true, authentic selves to work. 
 
At OCS UK&I, we have a fantastic Inclusion and Wellbeing platform, CHROMA. CHROMA stands for: creating harmonies, respecting others, and making allies and is made up of 3 colleague led inclusion and wellbeing volunteer networks: Wellbeing (mental, physical and financial health incl. neurodiversity), LGBTQ+ and Gender Identity and Race, Ethnicity and Faith. As part of my network, we have a group of colleague volunteers that support leading initiatives for LGBTQ+ & Gender Identity related topics, awareness days and events.

The LGBTQ+ & Gender Identity CHROMA network has some very exciting initiatives happening during Pride. We’re launching our new OCS TRUE Pride week, with each of the days representing one of our values and the Friday being more fun and light-hearted. On our day that represents trust, we’re going to be launching our LGBTQ+ Fellowship Framework, which is a tiered buddy system to support colleagues around the business who might not be out at work but need someone to talk to and support them through their coming out. We’re also going to be hosting a colleague quiz, curating a pride playlist, and hosting a rainbow dress day. 
 
Rainbow washing doesn’t cut it anymore! I would like to see more companies partnering with LGBTQ+ charities and organisations but overall, just talking more about LGBTQ+ issues and raising awareness of the importance of having LGBTQ+ colleagues in your workforce. Companies should be able to demonstrate that they have an effective discrimination policy, that they offer training and development for and about the LGBTQ+ community and just opening up to foster a culture of openness and acceptance for LGBTQ+ individuals. One big focus I would like companies to spotlight is the importance of allyship. Allyship is a straightforward concept: it involves showing up, speaking out, and offering unwavering support to our LGBTQ+ colleagues. At OCS, allyship plays a crucial role in shaping our workplace culture. By actively participating in allyship, we contribute to an environment of inclusion, respect, and support for all colleagues, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As allies, we have a vital role to play in promoting equality, challenging discrimination, and nurturing a sense of belonging. 

“It’s crucial that colleagues feel that they belong” 
Raj Jones, Head of DE&I, Sodexo UK and Ireland

We believe in the importance of bringing your authentic self to the workplace, it’s not just about boosting employee engagement, it’s about creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels valued. We are proud to be one of the founding members of the LGBT+ in FM network, a cross-industry group collaborating to drive inclusion across the FM sector and have our own PRIDE employee network.

Every year our PRIDE employee network helps organise participation in Pride marches but our work in this area extends beyond Pride month. We celebrate national recognition events such as LGBT+ History Month and IDAHOBiT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia). These celebrations aren’t just about showing support, they’re about engaging our employees, clients and local communities in meaningful conversations.

Over the last year we have launched a new Transitioning Guidance, updated policies and created new educational resources. Our PRIDE employee network has been running its #Standbyus campaign for a number of years, the aim of which is to encourage more visible allies to support our LGBT+ colleagues. This year the campaign extends to our client sites to foster stronger allyship.

To help shape our people policies, procedures and practices it is important we understand more about our employees. To gain this valuable insight we are undertaking a self-id survey known as This is Me. By understanding better the make-up of our workforce, will help to inform our strategies and help us create a more inclusive workplace. 

We will continue to challenge discrimination and promote a working environment in which people can be open about their sexual orientation and their gender identity should they choose to. This is not only important for an equitable society, but it is crucial that colleagues feel they belong if we are to succeed as an inclusive organisation.

“Pride goes beyond a month-long celebration”
Rachel McEntee, Marketing Director, Pareto Facilities Management 

For Pareto, Pride goes beyond a month-long celebration—it's our year-round commitment to fostering inclusivity, championing diversity, and promoting allyship. We believe that true strength lies in unity, and collaboration is key, whether it's with our suppliers, clients, or even competitors.

For over 6 years, our Operations Director, Colin Kimber, has been at the forefront of our Pride initiatives. Colin was recently awarded the prestigious Inspirational Role Model of the Year at the 2024 Rainbow Honours Awards and co-chairs LGBT+ in FM, a cross-industry network dedicated to advancing LGBTQ+ rights and representation in the facilities management sector. Through this partnership, we've been able to amplify our impact and reach across industries, driving meaningful change beyond Pareto.

This year, our focus continues on allyship—a concept that stretches beyond just tolerance to actively supporting and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. In collaboration with LGBT+ in FM, Colin will be gathering insights from our colleagues, teams and clients on what allyship means to them. It's about creating space for diverse voices, championing those who may not always be heard, and standing in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ colleagues and communities.

A demonstration of this ongoing commitment to allyship is our recent collaboration with another FM company ISS. Together, we sponsored Lesbian Visibility Week, a celebration of lesbian visibility and empowerment, co-hosting a table at the Diva Awards to showcase our unity and support. This partnership not only demonstrates our dedication to allyship within the industry but also highlights the importance of authentic engagement and meaningful action.

At Pareto FM, authenticity is key. We firmly believe in walking the talk and avoiding "rainbow washing"—superficial gestures that lack substance or authenticity. Our approach always aims to be informative, educational, and genuinely supportive of LGBTQ+ causes and communities. Pride should be more than just a symbolic gesture; it should be a catalyst for meaningful change and progress.

Allyship, for us, isn't limited to specific identities or communities—it's a fundamental principle that guides our interactions and decisions. It's about recognising and challenging systemic inequalities, creating inclusive spaces where everyone feels valued and respected, and using our platform to amplify marginalised voices.

As we continue our journey beyond June, we remain committed to championing LGBTQ+ rights, promoting allyship, and creating a workplace—and a world—where everyone can thrive, regardless of who they are or who they love. Because at Pareto FM, Pride isn't just a month—it's a mindset, a commitment, and a call to action for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Image: Shutterstock








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