Tell us about your accomplishments to date?

For more than 2 years, I have played a pivotal role in advancing the initiatives of EDI and belonging at Whitbread. A particularly proud accomplishment was delivering Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Training to over 600 deputy hotel managers and restaurant managers across our hotels and restaurants over the last 12 months, fostering a workplace culture that values and respects differences. I have also conducted LGBTQIA+ training sessions with our support centre teams, ensuring that our allies have an understanding of terminology, gender identity, and the importance of pronouns, helping to empower individuals to embrace inclusivity in their actions. Collaborating with our LGBTQIA+ network, GLOW, is another proud moment for me, where I coordinated participation in events such as Manchester Pride for two consecutive years, with over 100 team members, and facilitated attendance at Pride events in Luton, Dublin, and Edinburgh.

Further proud accomplishments include setting up and/or growing our Employee Resource Groups – Gender Equality network, Race, Religion and Cultural Heritage network and enAble network (for those with disabilities and long-term health conditions) and coordinating a Live event for our LGBTQIA+ and Race, Religion and Cultural Heritage networks with Michael Gunning, which had over 150 of our teams join to hear his story of navigating sexuality and being of Jamaican heritage.

My role and personal passion are helping to achieve our company’s commitment to inclusion, through policy reviews, the introduction of pronouns on name badges, and ongoing education for allies, fostering an environment where every team member feels valued, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.

What are the barriers in representing many intersectional identity groups?

Everyone wants to ‘belong’ and a community can provide that, however there are sometimes forces that come with a community, this can be exclusion, toxic masculinity or biases that people hold and so often communities can become micro-climates where ‘normal’ or majority is favoured, this then further excluding minorities and impacts intersectional minorities the greatest. Am I mixed ethnicity or gay or non-binary first? The reality is someone is all of those things all at once and at all times, but a barrier of a ‘community’ is that people often seek categorisation and clarity, which creates simple, linear answers for complex matters as it promotes binary or limited perspectives.

Do you think acceptance is improving?

I do think acceptance is improving overall but there have been periods of time where division has been highly visible and felt (notably the late 80s with the AIDS crisis) and it’s frustrating to see us in a similar position again. However, what is positive and shows us acceptance is improving, is the level of positive representation we now have in TV and Films, social media and the support from companies and influencers that wasn’t as visible then. I am hoping that this is the last time any of our community will face these levels of political and media misrepresentation and that future generations can say acceptance is accomplished and no longer just improving.

What does been nominated in your category mean to you?

I honestly never imagined I would be nominated as an lgbt trailblazer and when i see everyone else in this category, I feel humbled and honoured to be recognised alongside such amazing individuals. To be in the top 12 is an achievement I will never forget. I love the job i do because it aligns so closely with my own personal passions and beliefs, that we can live in a world where we are just accepted for who we are, no and’s, if’s or but’s. Being nominated for this award has validated that the work I’m doing is making a difference to people’s lives and i really hope that i can continue to help lay down the foundations of change, to enable others in creating a society where we can all feel we belong.