Mark speaks on behalf of our LGBT community and how heartwarming it’s been to have the whole company show support
It’s been amazing to work with a team of people who together are helping to put our company’s commitment to LGBT inclusion on the map
Like many other people across this and other countries, I started last week at a vigil for the victims of the terrible Orlando shootings where thousands of people – straight and gay – had come together to make a stand against homophobia.
As a gay man, it was both upsetting and emotional – targeted simply because they were gay, any one of the 49 killed could have been one of my friends.
Indeed, the act was especially felt by LGBT people because June is Pride month. Pride is an annual recognition of the Stonewall riots in America - a turning point in the history of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people - and a celebration of the contribution and achievements of the LGBT community to society.
Despite how much has been achieved in LGBT equality, we still live in a world where it’s illegal to be gay in 74 countries, punishable by death in 13 countries and where one in six LGBT people has been subject to verbal or physical abuse (that’s just UK figures) – it’s a reminder that we still have a long way to go.
That’s why it’s been truly, incredibly, heart-warmingly amazing to work over the last few months with a team of people who together are helping to put our company’s commitment to LGBT inclusion on the map. In the few months we’ve been working together, we’ve:
- Set up a dedicated cross-functional LGBT Programme Board - made of LGBT and non-LGBT colleagues – to start looking at where we can make a real difference.
- Got dedicated funding and agreement of a three-year strategy that aims to deliver real results for our people, our customers and across the wider media industry.
- Begun our biggest public display of commitment to inclusion to date, with plans to take part in four major Pride festivals this year – starting with London and Dublin on 25 and 26 June and Leeds and Glasgow in July.
- Started work on an ‘Allies’ programme that asks non-LGBT to get involved and challenge inequality when they see it.
- Gained the support of Stephen van Rooyen, Chief Executive UK and Ireland, as Exec sponsor for our vision.
All of that has already led to the biggest increase in numbers the LGBT@Sky employee network has ever seen, with more and more people telling us they feel more and more comfortable in coming out - in being themselves - at work.
It’s not about ticking the boxes. It’s about making sure that no LGBT person ever feels that they have to hide a part of their life or live in fear of being and showing their true self.
We know it’s a tiny piece of the worldwide puzzle, but if we make a difference for just one person, then we’ve succeeded. And we’ll continue to do it to honour the memory of the victims in Orlando and the many people who have come before to fight for equal rights for the LGBT community.
To everyone who’s LGBT here and involved in running events, sharing stories, being themselves, increasing acceptance - you're amazing. To our straight allies who are challenging bigotry and hatred - thank you. And to everyone who just wants to be themselves in a society that values everyone’s differences, just be whoever you are.
Happy Pride month. Together, let’s just be.
Mark Tittle, Corporate Communications Manager and Chair: LGBT@Sky employee network