Severn Trent’s LGBTQ+ advisory group chair speaks with pride

The beady eyed amongst you will have noticed that the Severn Trent logo has been lit up like a rainbow throughout the month of June. This is to reflect Pride Month 2022 and Severn Trent’s support for the LGBTQ+ community inside and outside of the organisation.

Natasha Haywood, Colleague Experience Lead, is the chair of Severn Trent’s LGBTQ+ advisory group. Fuelled by the prejudice she’s experienced outside of the organisation for being a lesbian, Natasha’s devoted the last three years to making Severn Trent a great place to work for everyone.

She says: “When I first joined the company a few years ago, we were at number 414 in Stonewall’s index. I’m super-proud that we’re now at number 40.

“Of course, we’re determined to do even better through educating our workforce to respect and understand everyone’s differences. We want employees to always be their true selves, to be who they are, love who they want to, and have the confidence to do the things that make them who they are. And in return deliver great things for Severn Trent.”

On 28 June 1969, New York police raided a gay club called The Stonewall Inn. It was a popular meeting place for members of the gay community. But on that date, the community fought back and that’s how Pride Month began and why the LGBTQ+ charity is called Stonewall.

The Stonewall UK Workplace Equality Index is designed to assess how well an organisation is doing on lesbian, gay, bi, and trans inclusion in the workplace.

The work that Natasha has done over the years – with other members of Severn Trent’s LGBTQ+ advisory group and colleagues within the company – has resulted in this hike up the index.

Natasha says: “Together we’ve changed HR policies, reviewed our customer journeys, told personal stories, mentored leaders, reviewed onsite building facilities, and educated the workforce. There’s still loads to do, but we’re getting there.”

The focus for this month and the remainder of 2022 is to continue the momentum of educating employees about LGBTQ+ issues.

Another priority is to tap into the expertise of more Severn Trent advisory groups to create an even bigger impact. Including the ‘Disability’, ‘Ethnicity’, and ‘Women in Operations and STEM’ networks.

Natasha explains: “A person can potentially belong to many different minority groups. So, it’s important to understand how that might affect an individual in a negative way, and then take action to change things for the better.”

Intersectionality is one of the topics Natasha and team is spreading the word about through their educational tour. This is taking them to some of Severn Trent’s top sites. Including: Severn Trent Centre in Coventry, Raynesway and Pride Park in Derby, and Shelton Water Treatment Works in Shrewsbury. Plus, the Hafren Dyfrdwy headquarters in Wrexham.

Natasha adds: “Our focus for the remainder of 2022 is to enable even more of our LGBTQ+ community to be themselves, and the way that we do that is through education. We need to continue to create a safe and supportive environment where everyone feels accepted for who they really are.

“It’s also about making sure there are no consequences for LGBTQ+ colleagues when they choose to live an authentic life at work. If we don’t do this, they’ll never deliver their true potential at Severn Trent.”

Severn Trent has partnered with Birmingham 2022 and is an Official Nature & Carbon Neutral Supporter. So, with the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Natasha and team will also be exploring how LGBTQ+ sports professionals have experienced discrimination.

Natasha says: “Sadly prejudice is present in every workplace. From the meeting room to the racing track. But we’ll continue to try and make life better for those who choose to work for, or interact with, Severn Trent.

“If you’d like to help us, we’d love to hear from you!”

To read more about Severn Trent’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan, you can download it here. To hear more about the work Natasha and the LGBTQ+ advisory group is doing, please drop Natasha a line.