By Francis Burrows
Being able to live our own lives as who we are is a vital element of a happy, contented life. It is something most people take for granted and would never even think about how this might not be the case for other people. Simple things like walking hand in hand down the street, a peck on the cheek to your partner to say hello, or a romantic meal out in a restaurant, all a part of daily life and wouldn’t get a glance from anyone around. For most people.
Although it’s been over 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, we still cannot do all the same things that others take for granted. As a gay man, I still must take in my surroundings and do a mental risk assessment to decide whether it is safe to simply be me.
If I’m feeling particularly brave, I might consider doing one of these things, but only if I was sure that I wouldn’t be on the receiving end of verbal abuse or violence, but you never can be sure until it happens. At work, I have to feel confident that my colleagues will respect me and treat me the same after coming out. I’ve heard so many examples from people in different organisations where suddenly, they were treated differently, bullied and harassed until they chose to leave, or it impacted their mental health.
I’m pleased to say Orbit is not like that. I knew from my first day that I would be accepted, respected and given the opportunity to thrive. I have had only positive reactions from people and have been proud that I’ve been able to make real changes within the organisation to ensure that everyone, whether a customer or colleague, gets treated with respect.
Orbit signing the HouseProud Pledge gives me a strong signal that I am valued and respected, as is everyone else. It will help us show all our customers, colleagues and partners that we value them just as they are.
On the back of our HouseProud Pledge, we are reaching out to customers and colleagues to help us make lasting improvements to how we support LGBTQ+ people. We want to listen and understand their experiences of living in our homes and working across our business, so we can do better. Orbit’s vision is to lead in building thriving communities, and that means created homes, workplaces and communities which are fair and equal to all. So, come and join us – join our EDI community, share your insight and experiences, and help us be the best organisation we can for LGBTQ+ people.