Championing inclusivity through our colleague-led network this Pride Month

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As Pride Month begins, John Worthy (He/Him), the Chair of our colleague-led network MaxPride, reflects on the work of the network and importance of visibility for LGBTQ+ people.

Today marks the beginning of Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and our collective achievements towards LGBTQ+ equality in workplaces, communities, and laws around the world. 

MaxPride, our colleague-led network, was formed in June 2021, on the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Since then, we’ve remained committed to the same overarching goal – to make Maximus a leading employer of choice for the LGBTQ+ community.  

More than 200 members signed up to our network at its inception, supporting us as we work closely with the Country Leadership Team and our colleagues within Diversity, Equity & Inclusion to drive meaningful change across the business. As a network, we’re able to create a safe space for colleagues to share their own experiences, educate others, and champion the issues that matter most to them. 

During my time as MaxPride Chair, I’ve been privileged to shine a spotlight on some of the major challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community. Over the past year, we’ve hosted some fantastic events in recognition of important milestones, such as World Aids Day and LGBTQ+ History Month – and attended Pride in Leeds for the first time as a business.  

Growing up, I never understood what Pride was truly about and was under the misconception that it was simply a party or festival. I heard other people’s negative rhetoric which affected my own opinion about being open about my sexuality. It wasn’t until I reached my 30s when I really started to connect with the concept of Pride. I realise that if I struggled as a gay man to understand its meaning, then perhaps many others do, too.  

This is why marching alongside my colleagues at Pride was such a proud and emotional moment for me, and I’m excited to join Maximus again this year as we march in Cardiff. 

As a network, we’ve also forged relationships with local charities, such as the Albert Kennedy Trust, a LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity. Through colleague fundraising and a grant from Maximus Foundation UK, the not-for-profit arm of Maximus, we’ve supported the charity to continue their important work, providing emergency accommodation, crisis support and mentoring services to young people who are LGBTQ+ and are homeless or living in a hostile environment.  

We’re committed to raising awareness of the challenges members of our community face. Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people continue to rise; the most recent Home Office figures show that crimes targeting people’s sexual orientation increased by 42% to 26,152 from March 2021 to March 2022, whilst crimes against transgender people saw the biggest rise, up 56%. Collectively, we’ve been working hard to challenge misconceptions about our community, and to normalise the conversation around LGBTQ+ and create a shift in our language.  

Our work as a network goes beyond raising awareness though, as we look to make a series of recommendations on various areas within the business – helping to make our policies as inclusive as possible so every colleague is empowered to be their true, authentic self.  

The world has come a long way, even within my own lifetime. As I come to the end of my time as MaxPride Chair, I’m proud of our achievements so far, but recognise we still have a way to go to create a safe space that allows all colleagues to feel included, seen, and respected.   

Attending and supporting Pride is just one way you can show solidarity with colleagues and those within the community. It’s important to remember that while Pride is a month-long celebration, the struggles of those within the LGBTQ+ community are felt long after the month is over.  

I’m proud to work for an employer that actively supports the LGBTQ+ community, and as I look to the year ahead, I’m excited to watch the network grow and push ahead to see real change within the business. 

01 June, 2023