Discover the remarkable achievements and challenges faced by Proud@Sainsburys in fostering inclusion and supporting the LGBT+ community. Explore their initiatives, partnerships, and reflections on acceptance and representation.

Tell us about your accomplishments to date?

Some of our Proudest achievements at Proud@Sainsburys is the work we do with our charity partners, because we can give something meaningful back to our LGBT+ community. We have spent 4 years growing our partnership with Sparkle the National Transgender Charity and we were proud to be the very first retailer to be the headline sponsor in 2022

At Sparkle in 2023, 50 colleagues from our Proud@Sainsbury’s network volunteered their time to support the Sparkle Big Weekender. The majority of our colleagues who attended identified as trans and/or non-binary and our colleagues absolutely made a difference at the event, from litter picking, welcoming visitors at Manchester Piccadilly train station, wearing t-shirts to be a visible presence in Canal Street and having some amazing, empowering conversations with attendees. It was great to see so many colleagues from across Sainsbury’s coming together and celebrating the ‘T’, helping to create a safe, positive and affirmative environment, as well as having some free time to soak in the atmosphere and really enjoy the event for what it truly is.

Over the last 2 years we have partnered with many amazing charities such as Gendered Intelligence and Metro alongside our longer-term partnerships with AKT and Sparkle. Internationally, Sainsbury’s has a 22-year long partner relationship with Comic Relief and through their lesser known LGBT+ sponsorship, we have also indirectly supported further LGBT+ charities. Our mission through our support and partnership of these charities has not only been to financially support the much-needed work they do within our communities across the country, but also to raise awareness and educate Sainsbury’s 180,000 colleagues of the work these charities do all year round. Through these partnerships we regularly organise lunch and learns, recorded podcasts and share information and educational resources to our colleagues via Viva Engage, our internal social channel.

We have also pioneered ‘coffee and chat’ sessions, where invites are sent out to over 300 colleagues across the business. The aim of these sessions is to create a safe space where colleagues can be their true selves by creating a virtual platform where they can come together to explore, discuss and focus on a broad range of LGBT+ topics. We follow a different theme each month alongside our ‘Standing Together’ inclusion calendar and colleagues have the opportunity to share their lived experiences. We have also included many of our charity partners to bring to life some of the topics. The impact of and the feedback from these conversations has been incredibly inspiring, both for allies and members of our LGBT+ community alike.

In addition to our other charitable donations, last year we also donated over £50,000 to akt and Sparkle through store and online sales of our Pride merchandise, our Pride Clothing range and our dedicated beauty range. Also, through our long-standing Comic Relief relationship we enabled our customers to support akt and Sparkle through our Nectar customer app by donating their Nectar points.

As we enter into 2024 we reflect on many, many proud moments. As one of the UK’s largest employers and with a presence in towns and cities across the country, we know the importance and impact our Proud@Sainsbury’s Network makes both internally and externally and we are determined to not just carry on, but do even more. Our full aim is ‘To be a truly inclusive retailer where every one of our colleagues can fulfil their potential and where our customers feel welcome when they shop with us’ and we will continue to do this by standing together with our colleagues, customers and communities, being visible within the LGBT+ community and continuously evolving our strategy to keeps us ‘future fit’ through awareness and education.

What are the barriers in representing many intersectional identity groups?

We at Proud@Sainsburys believe there are some key barriers that we need to address when it comes to representing many intersectional identity groups. Firstly limited awareness and understanding. Many people may not be aware of or understand the complexities of intersectionality and the multitude of identity groups that exist within it. This lack of awareness can lead to oversimplification or erasure of certain identities.

Secondly there is issues such as rainbow washing where companies that aim to represent diverse intersectional identity groups need to ensure that their efforts are perceived as genuine and authentic. Tokenistic representation or superficial diversity initiatives can backfire and damage brand reputation and authentic action. Thirdly, Intersectional Discrimination: Intersectional identity groups may face discrimination that is unique to their intersecting identities, which can further marginalize them and limit their representation in mainstream media and other platforms. We are aware there are more barriers then those mentioned but these are some key ones we face into.

Do you think acceptance is improving?

Acceptance of LGBT+ individuals has generally been improving over time, but it’s important to note that experiences can vary widely depending on factors such as location, age, socioeconomic status, and cultural background. And the sense of community that LGBT+ people have across the UK is amazing. However, there are still areas that need to improve especially when it comes to discrimination, violence and healthcare. 

Overall, while acceptance of LGBT+ individuals in Britain has improved in many respects, ongoing efforts are needed to address remaining challenges and ensure full equality and inclusion for all members of the community.

What does been nominated in your category mean to you?

It’s a great recognition of all the amazing work that our colleagues in Proud@Sainsburys do ‘To be a truly inclusive retailer where every one of our colleagues can fulfil their potential and where our customers feel welcome when they shop with us’. And all of us at Proud@Sainsburys are truly grateful to be recognised for the work that we do.