“Workplaces should be for work, not judgement.”

In recent years, Tesco has been recognised as one of the leading companies in the world when it comes to LGBTQ inclusivity.

As proud Stonewall Diversity Champions, members of the Open for Business Coalition and supporters of this year’s GAY TIMES Honours 500 celebration, Tesco have made it their mission to not only support their queer employees, but to support queer people across the globe.

“For the last few years in the UK we have supported Switchboard and raised money for them, and in Ireland we support the Belong To youth LGBTQ+ charity,” says David Page, UK & ROI Communications Director for Tesco.

David – who joined the company last year – is also executive sponsor for Out at Tesco, a network that advises and supports its LGBTQ colleagues through queer activities such as Pride, Trans in the City and LGBT History Month.

Here, we chat with David about Out at Tesco, his day-to-day responsibilities for the company and why it’s important for companies to support their LGBTQ employees all-year round (not just at Pride).

David, what is your mission as the UK & ROI Communications Director?
My mission is very simple: to promote and protect the reputation of Tesco in the UK and ROI; to provide the best environment for our colleagues to serve our customers a little better every day.

You’re also the Executive Sponsor for Out at Tesco – can you tell us a little bit about the network?
The Out at Tesco Network has over 3,500 (and growing) members. This makes it one of the largest LGBTQ+ networks in Europe. Its purpose is to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues across the company; drive and coordinate our involvement in LGBTQ+ activities including Pride, Trans in the City and LGBT History Month. It provides advice and help when asked for, and advises senior leaders and the business on policy and purpose.

How does the network help support its LGBTQ employees and customers? 
We provide mentoring and a confidential email account for any colleagues to ask questions and seek advice when asked. We are trialling using our community rooms as safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community to meet. The LGBTQ+ network is part of our wider D&I network and programme to ensure that everyone is welcome at Tesco: a diverse workforce reflects our customers and the communities we serve and when our colleagues feel comfortable and confident to be the person they are, they do the best job for our customers. And of course we help our employees and customers have fun through our huge involvement with Prides up and down the countries.

What are your day to day responsibilities for Out at Tesco? 
I am a member of the senior governance group which includes three senior Directors in Tesco and the Chair of the Network – Barry Davies. We meet every four weeks and review the objectives we set ourselves at the start of each year and help support our deliverables, plus we review what’s happening each month and what’s coming up and help.

What are some of the initiatives Tesco have rolled out for LGBTQ+ people that you are particularly proud of?
Pride is our jewel in the crown each year as it really does show our colleagues and customers how much we support the LGBTQ+ community. They galvanise and excite our colleagues and visibly show that Everyone’s Welcome at Tesco. Our Head Office Campus has sponsored events including Trans in the City and we are very excited about a new project next year called T&Coffee, working with some great people and its founder, Samantha Howard, to support the trans community. We are a Diversity Champion with Stonewall and have worked with them for many years to help support and advise us on our work, policies and network activities. For the last few years in the UK we have supported Switchboard and raised money for them, and in Ireland we support the Belong To youth LGBTQ+ charity. And we are starting a trial to use our community rooms as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ groups to meet.

How does the company show its solidarity for the community during Pride season? 
This year we were headline sponsors of both London and Dublin Prides, plus also supported 40 other events across the countries – mainly requested by our colleagues.  Many of our stores go all out to support the Pride season. 

Why is it important for companies to not only show up for Pride, but continue their support for LGBTQ employees, customers and the community all year round?
Our LGBTQ+ colleagues are LGBTQ+ all year round, not just for Pride. So networks, support, collaborations and activities must be year around.   

How have you personally seen attitudes towards LGBTQ people in the workplace improve throughout your career?
I’ve been very lucky in that my sexuality has never been a major issue where I’ve worked or in my career.  But I’ve grown up in PR and communications in London which has mainly been a liberal, liberated and accepting community. But outside of that bubble, I’ve watched with pride as elements of LGBT, then LGBTQ+, have become more and more visible, mainstream and accepted. Our job now is to ensure that continues, in all parts of our society, in all parts of our country. Workplaces should be for work, not judgement.