By Krisztina Sutton

UK Payroll Manager

This June, colleagues from +, our LGBTQ+ network, came together at Cardiff Pride for a day of celebration.

And while this was an amazing opportunity to champion each other, it’s important to remember that showing support isn’t just for June.

We caught up with two members of +, Thomas Steen and Catherine Baker, to talk all things Pride, allyship and the importance of building an inclusive workplace all year round.

Meet Thomas and Catherine

Thomas and Catherine are two colleagues on completely different Centrica journeys – but through a mutual commitment to creating safe spaces for the community, both within the company and beyond, they’re completely united.

Let’s get to know them a bit better:

Meet Thomas

I’m a strong believer that being in the community means more than just changing the logo on your Facebook page to tick a box! It’s all year round, not just a month”

Thomas has worked at Centrica for over 10 years – starting as a Customer Service Agent before progressing to Business Capability Lead – and has recently joined the + network.

Thomas Selfie Cropped

Meet Catherine

“The LGBTQ+ community isn’t just here for one month of the year. We’re here all year round. Companies and individuals shouldn’t just celebrate Pride and forget about it until next year.”

A Graduate Commercial Analyst (DSR and Smart Energy Propositions), Catherine has been working at Centrica for 10 months and is an active member of  +.

Katie Selfie

A network for all year round 

At +, we build awareness to create an open and inclusive place where we feel respected, valued and are empowered to make a change. We believe our differences and identity should be embraced and celebrated. And for Thomas, the network is more important than ever.

Although he’s worked at Centrica for 10 years, a recent “societal shift” has encouraged Thomas to get involved in the network over the past month. He cites the passing of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill in Scotland as a stark reminder that there’s still work to be done – and he wants to play an active role in driving that progress.

While recent events urged Thomas to make a difference through +, Catherine joined the network as soon as she started at Centrica. Together with Alice Rowe, Co-chair of the network, she runs the Conversations series, where colleagues meet at lunchtime to discuss a chosen topic and share their opinions on subjects that are important to the community.

Both Thomas and Catherine agree that inspiring open conversation, and amplifying voices, is a key function of the network. Whether that’s running events, posting on Teams or creating a podcast and newsletter (both of which are still in the works!), + encourages open and honest dialogue across the business.

And it’s not just the LGBTQ+ community that + focuses on – as Thomas explains, + is always “cross checking with other networks and promoting them”, ensuring + is championing other marginalised groups across the business.

All for one. All for allyship.

Just like + celebrates other groups, the committee encourages other colleagues to speak up and stand up for them too.

Like Alice says, “The impact of allies at Centrica is huge… they’re a key driver of the change the network is lobbying for.” That’s why + runs allyship events and workshops throughout the year, as well as providing an allyship programme to all networks.

But why exactly is allyship so important?

Alice explains that “If any ally comes to our event, they might go back to their team and talk openly about it, and that creates security and inclusion for the team, and for people who are too afraid to come out”. It’s all about the “small moments” that can “really make a difference to the psychological safety” of colleagues.

Pride with a difference

Pride Long Read

Pride is a great opportunity for those allies to openly champion the community.

We marked this year’s Pride through our internal #PoweringPride campaign, encouraging colleagues to tell us how they show allyship, as well as hearing from members of the community about why they’re proud to be out at Centrica. As Thomas and Catherine both say, there’s nothing more powerful than hearing people's personal experiences and perspectives.

And this was just the beginning of June’s celebrations. “This year we wanted to pick a Pride in an area local to one of our offices”, Catherine explains, which is why our people came together in Cardiff to get involved in Pride Cymru.

“Even though it wasn’t the biggest Pride ever, it was so nice to have a personal touch” Catherine reflects, “and it felt like people cared a lot more because it wasn't a large corporate affair.” Thomas agrees that Cardiff Pride was “something special”, where you could really “interact with people” and, compared to the bigger events, “feel much more free”.

A highlight of the event for Catherine was “seeing the variety of people from the committee and beyond” – whether that’s colleagues from the Cardfiff office or people who travelled from London with their families. In particular, she loved to “see young children have so much exposure to different ways of living”, with the event showing them “that [they] don’t need to have a cookie cutter life – and that’s OK.”

For Thomas, the best thing about Pride is how it “allows [him] to celebrate who [he is]”, providing a space for him to “walk down the street in whatever [he] wants, in full glitter and glam” without judgement. “It’s a time for everyone to come together, no matter who you are, what your sex is, how you identify or the colour of your skin. Who cares? You’re loved.”

Yet while Pride is a time for fun and celebration, Catherine wants to remind everyone that “it started as a protest and it has real roots behind it.” Thomas agrees that “it isn’t just about rainbows” – it’s a chance “to talk to real people and hear their stories and dark times, reminding [us] that [we’re] not alone.”

So let’s take a moment to remember that Pride is something the community should feel every day of every year. That’s why we’ll keep working within the network and beyond, to drive lasting change for Centrica and society.