Explore OVO’s Pride in Ourselves network journey, from fostering inclusivity to overcoming barriers. Discover how they champion diversity and celebrate achievements.

Tell us about your accomplishments to date?

Lynsey was an original founding member of the Pride in Ourselves network in 2019 and has been in the role of network lead since 2021.

Hannah (Bakes) was a founding member of the drag appreciation society in OVO which became the Pride society in 2016. They led the celebration activities of Pride in Ourselves before joining as a full lead in 2023.

We are proud of the work we have done to develop ourselves to ensure that we can lead our Pride in Ourselves network with knowledge and passion, whilst ensuring that we have a safe space for our LGBTIQ+ people. We have both completed the Radius network lead programme to ensure that we can be the best leads possible and support other, new, network leads to set up and engage with their networks.

Our work includes updating and creating new policies, such as embedding a transitioning at work policy, making sure our bullying and harassment policy is ahead of the law for supporting our trans colleagues, reviewing our benefits, and introducing a new trans healthcare benefit. We’ve also supported in creating training, including the OVO ally training for all of our C-Suite and senior leaders.

We work hard to ensure we have an engaging plan in place to celebrate all the dates in the LGBTIQ+ calendar to ensure that we educate, recognise, and celebrate all identities.

We have created a safe space for our people to openly discuss their experiences with others, and to support each other. We make sure our people know that they are listened to, ensure they feel empowered to challenge if OVO gets things wrong, and to make sure OVO gets things right. Our mindset is to call people in, not to call them out. We acknowledge that people make mistakes, our role outside of being there for our LGBTIQ+ people is to support allies in developing their allyship and showing their visible support.

What are the barriers in representing many intersectional identity groups?

One of the main barriers is having visibility and role models in senior positions. Due to historic biases within businesses as a whole, the pool of talent for C-Suite positions tends to be more monolithic. We are working to support the hiring of more diverse candidates and growing our people internally to create this change.

Within our industry and at a senior level we still have a lot of work to do to create time and physiological safety for leaders. Having the time to talk about their identities and their allyship to different groups is difficult. Making intersectionality not just a part of the conversation, but the basis we build everything on, is a journey. We want them to know they can be themselves, be open to sharing who they are, and acknowledge any knowledge gaps they may have, so that the many identities and allies within our communities feel safe to do that too.

In the current energy and financial crisis, people are under more stress and have higher workloads. Often the work on diversity and inclusion can become a lower priority – we keep the conversation going, keep people accountable, and make sure that we keep our voices heard. Only with diversity of thought and innovation can we get through these challenging times.

Do you think acceptance is improving?

There is definitely more visibility, but this is a double edged sword. Knowing what’s possible encourages more acceptance of self and others, but for some it’s another group to hate. We know from surveys that socially and culturally acceptance is on the up, but the government and politics as a whole are using these groups as scapegoats. Our people have shared the negative impacts of this, but the network has been fantastic in supporting each other, which is further evidence that acceptance is improving.

People do understand why it’s important, and we can see that people are thinking more widely and out of the box in a proactive way. This allows us to continue to develop how we support all of our people.

What does been nominated in your category mean to you?

Being nominated alone means so much, and to make the Top 12 is incredible. We’ve been on a journey since 2016 and 2019, as a network and as OVO we are so proud of how far we’ve come, especially in the last 3-4 years since the networks were officially enveloped within the business. The impact we’ve had and the culture we’ve created all stems from knowing we have to do the right thing for our people and the community. It’s an honour to have got this far, and it means so much to all of our members to have this recognition.

We’ll all be watching on the night!