This year the 17th May is a Wednesday and just another day to many of us, but in 1990 it was the day the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. Since then the 17th May has been recognised as International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT); a day which aims to raise issues facing the LGBT+ community and promote freedom and respect regardless of anyone’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

Today we raised the rainbow flag on the flagpole at our offices in Peterborough to show all of our staff and the local communities we operate within that we value our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT+) colleagues, and that we are a modern company that does not tolerate discrimination in any form. The rainbow flag is both a recognisable symbol of the LGBT Rights movement, but also of diversity and inclusivity more broadly.

IAHD 17-05-2017 (12) smallWhy are we discussing this? Well, we have a crucial role in providing drinking water and sanitation services to a large part of the East of England, all day everyday. We need to overcome enormous challenges such as population growth, climate change and customer expectations which are set out in our recently published Strategic Direction Statement. Diverse teams are known to perform better, and especially those teams in a workplace environment which enables individuals to be themselves free from fear of discrimination. By having staff who can come to work safe in the knowledge that they can be themselves, we can each give our all to the service we’re providing our customers.

Looking back to 2014 when I pledged on behalf of Anglian Water to reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental health, I’m proud to say that we have come a very long way. Conversations around mental health are being had across the business, and the stigma associated with it is steadily being brought down. However, there is still a long way to go, and it is known that LGBT+ colleagues are often more susceptible to suffering from mental health issues due to stresses in the workplace. Fear of being “outed” and hiding a true identity by “covering” are very real pressures facing LGBT+ individuals. We recognise this, and we’re continuing the conversation around mental health to try and help.

This is one step of many towards supporting greater diversity and inclusivity in our business and our region, and we support all of our staff to share their knowledge, share their skills, and free their potential regardless of their age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability. Diversity is being asked to the party, and inclusivity is being asked to dance. We want all of our colleagues to feel that they can be a part of that dance.