Steve Beechey is Group Public Sector Director at Wates, and the Executive sponsor of BuildOut Together, a voluntary employee network which ensures LGBTQ+ representation is visible within Wates.
BuildOut Together helps influence company decisions, policy and initiatives relating to LGBTQ+ inclusion. On National Coming Out Day on 11 October, Steve reflected on why greater inclusion is so important at Wates.
National Coming Out Day is all about supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in sharing who they are with friends, family, and colleagues.
Creating an open and inclusive culture
At Wates, one of the goals we’ve committed to in our Guiding Framework is to make us more progressive and in part, this means making our culture more open and inclusive and to ensure that the people who work here truly represent the communities in which we live and work including those who are part of, or an ally of, the LGBTQ+ community.
Working in an organisation that is truly inclusive means, in its simplest form, being able to bring your whole self to work and be valued, respected, and listened to for who you are. Sounds simple. Often, it’s not. As a traditionally male-dominated industry, and one that is often perceived as a bit ‘laddish’, Construction hasn’t always appealed, or felt like a natural fit, for those who are part of the LGBTQ+ family.
Over the past year, my stepdaughter has come out to her friends and family which she’s found incredibly uplifting and somewhat of a relief. It’s enabled her to truly be herself and she feels free of having to live with a secret. She’s been shown a huge amount of love and support from those who are close to her and she’s proud of herself. And I am incredibly proud of her.
In a perfect world of course, people wouldn’t need to ‘come out’ but we live in a heteronormative world where we often assume people are straight until otherwise told. It’s a mindset that needs to change. I recently took part in Birmingham Pride with some Wates colleagues, which was such a fantastic experience. It was brilliant to see thousands of people sharing their individuality and supporting others doing the same. It taught me a lot and has made me even more determined to make positive changes here at Wates.
Top business priority
Being more inclusive and diverse is one of our business’s top priorities. It’s as important as keeping people safe, being environmentally sustainable and generating a profit. We want to create an environment where everyone feels valued respected and able to be themselves. Not to fear ridicule, bullying or persecution. It will take each and every one of us to do this, and it’s why we’re encouraging all our people to get involved in our annual company-wide Inclusion Month which takes place across the whole of October.
Inclusion Month is an opportunity to learn more about what we mean by inclusion and how we can all be more inclusive. There are plenty of ways or people can get involved, from webinars to join, and articles and blogs to read. We’ve also launched a new campaign around the business on microaggressions in order to stamp them out at work.
Being involved in Inclusion Month and in our LGBTQ+ employee network, ‘BuildOut Together’ are part of my effort to make Wates a better and more inclusive place to work and I’ll continue to encourage my colleagues to support our people wherever they work and whoever they are.