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Susannah's blog - belonging and our LGBTQ+ Network Group

For LGBT+ History Month 2021, Susannah, one of our Progress Lifeline Control Centre Operators, spoke to us about her experience of joining Progress Housing Group, the importance of being part of an inclusive organisation, and how our employee-led LGBTQ+ Network is going from strength to strength.

It's LGBT+ History Month, and, on our intranet, colleagues across the Group have been sharing some inspiring, informative, and sometimes shocking, facts and pieces of knowledge about LGBTQ+ key people and events throughout history.

The posts have got us all talking and engaging and have raised awareness of LGBTQ+ history and current affairs. 

As a member of Progress’ LGBTQ+ Network Group, I wanted to tell you a little more about the network, and my reasons for joining.

Prior to joining Progress Lifeline in December 2019, I had never been part of a large team at work, and my new role would be a change from anything I had done previously. Understandably apprehensive and wanting to make the right decisions, I spent some time researching the role I was applying for and the company.

Whilst nothing particularly stood out about supporting LGBT+ employees on the website, there was, amongst other positives, an acknowledgement of, and support for, equality and diversity within the workforce and policies. No red flags for me - so I applied.

As someone who is Bi and married to a woman, I have previously had to answer plenty of questions about this. And coming out to people, with the inevitable questions regarding being Bi, has become the norm. I hoped that Progress would prove to be somewhere less questioning, more open and accepting. Perhaps as part of a large team, I could just blend in without having almost to justify who I was.

Fast forward to now, it’s February 2021 and I am happy to say I have never regretted my decision to join the company and the Progress Lifeline Team!

I feel very lucky to be part of a diverse team of people from many different backgrounds, experiences and circumstances. I have colleagues within Progress Housing Group who are part of the LGBT+ community, which is a first for me, but more importantly, I feel that I am part of a fantastic team and company!

Joining the LGBT+ Network at the Group

Around September 2020, the creation of an LGBTQ+ network for colleagues at Progress was mentioned to me, and I was asked if I would be interested in getting involved. I was slightly hesitant - not knowing what to expect - but the answer was… yes!

If, as an applicant back in December 2019, I had felt that the organisation came across as neutral on the topic of LGBTQ+ support when I first looked at Progress as an employer, then the presence of an LGBT group may have helped to change that. Although I hadn’t had a particularly negative work experience previously, due to being part of the LGBT community, just knowing there was support for an LGBTQ+ network group gives some reassurance that an employer is inclusive and supports the community.

I already knew I had LGBT+ colleagues, and the network became a way to connect with other people from other departments that I wouldn’t normally meet. Also, when the current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, there is no doubt that the social aspect of meeting people is something for us all to look forward to.

The group is already growing. We have had a couple of guests join us at recent meetings and share with us their experiences of establishing a network as well as building links for future collaboration. 

About the author

Progress Housing Group