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Why we're committed to building a business that's diverse and inclusive of everyone

Derek Lawlor, Senior Vice President of Commercial and Executive sponsor of Asda's Pride Colleague Resource Group talks about what we're doing as a business to create an environment for our colleagues and customers that's safe and supportive for everyone...

January 1, 2015 00:00pm
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At Asda we're passionate and committed about building a business that's diverse and inclusive. Our colleagues are at the heart of our business and we want them to be proud of who they are and proud of working for Asda. We don't tolerate any form of bullying, harassment or prejudice. Our aim is to create an environment that is inclusive, safe and supportive for all our colleagues, so they can be their best selves.

We’ve a long history of supporting and sponsoring events such as Pride and last year thousands of our colleagues took part in 44 Pride events across the country. In Leeds, Asda’s home city, we lit up our Home Office in rainbow colours to celebrate Pride in the city, as well as hosting the family zone. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, many of this year’s Pride events, which normally take place across the summer months, were cancelled.

Asda has also supported Sparkle for several years including running family weekends at the Sparkle Weekend celebration event, which aims to promote trans awareness, inclusion and acceptance. In addition, we have also put into place corporate policies to ensure the culture of the business allows colleagues to bring their true and best selves to work every day, including first of their kind transgender and gender identity policies.

These partnerships are all part of Asda’s Inclusion at Asda - Being You initiative. This policy, which was introduced in 2019, is aimed at ensuring colleagues, customers and the wider community feels welcome, included, and safe.

We believe as a business that education and conversation is the most positive way to help encourage acceptance and inclusion and that is why we started to partner with Diversity Role Models (DRM) last year. DRM are a charity which goes into schools to run workshops that educate children in line with the National Curriculum across all aspects of diversity, covering LGBT + rights, bullying, harassment, racism and sexism.

In 2019, we launched three T-shirts with DRM to celebrate Pride, which our customers loved. We were able to donate £12,500 to the charity from the T-shirt sales, which meant that DRM could deliver over 100 student workshops in schools, reaching 2,500 students across the UK.

This year the National Curriculum is set to change to mean Relationships Education is compulsory in schools, but many teachers feel they are unable to deliver these lessons, this is why the work of charities like DRM is so important. Their educational workshops are tailored specifically to the group being taught and focus oninclusion, building empathy, ending anti-LGBT+ language and behaviour. Each workshop consists of specifically created education content, developed in line with the National Curriculum requirements on PSHE, and are delivered by trained facilitators. The workshops feature volunteer LGBT+ and ally role models who share their own personal experience and story. Through storytelling, discussion and interactive activities students explore the importance of recognising and embracing our differences and challenging prejudice and discrimination.

In primary schools these workshops focus on understanding that families may look different from your own but are still deserving of respect. In secondary schools they explore the impact of homophonic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, language, and stereotyping.

To support this need, this year, we have donated £100,000 to the charity to help them deliver even more workshops in schools across the UK. We have also worked to develop some really exciting new products - including rainbow coloured t-shirts available exclusively on george.com and featuring motivational and feel good words such as Love, Inclusive and Fabulous.

The range also includes an exclusive partnership with Universal to celebrate the release of Trolls 2 – Trolls World Tour, as well as Nickelodeon favourite SpongeBob Square Pants and a Disney range launching in October, with ever popular Mickey icons in the pride rainbow colours. Selected products in the range run from baby to adult sizes and are designed to be unisex.

Each day we’re listening and learning – working to make a difference for our colleagues, customers and the communities we serve

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