British American Tobacco - The importance of Pride in 2022

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30 June 2022

The importance of Pride in 2022

At BAT we are proud of the role that our LGBT+ network B United plays in helping us build A Better Tomorrow™. Along with a range of other events, the yearly lighting up of our London HQ in rainbow colours is one way we show our support for our LGBT+ colleagues. This year also saw our U.S. colleagues’ office building similarly lit up for the first time.

B United was reformed in 2018 – replacing the previous Lucky Tribe – and provides a safe space for employees globally to share experiences. On a practical level the network provides advice to the business around matters such as global mobility and guidance for LGBT+ employees going on international assignments and transfers abroad. B United also offers help to line managers who may have queries around sensitive matters concerning LGBT+ employees.

Adrian Longdon (pictured above, centre, with his family at the 2019 London Pride parade) is a founder member of B United and sits on its board. Here he talks to us about the network’s contribution to life at BAT and his excitement for what lies ahead – starting with the upcoming London Pride parade.

Hi Adrian. Thanks for talking to us. Why is Pride still an important celebration in 2022?

We have come a long way in terms of recognition of the LGBT+ community in many countries around the world. But there are still groups within the umbrella of LGBT+ that face challenges and need support. So, beyond a celebration of where we have come from, Pride is still platform to highlight these continued challenges and drive awareness and discussion. I am a big believer in being proud and visible - people fear what they don’t know or experience. Pride helps to educate on the importance of acceptance, inclusion and equality.

How does it feel for Pride to be back in person?

Really exciting! Two years ago my family walked with B United (see picture above), and this was the first LGBT+ event my son attended. He had a ball, but he didn’t really understand what it was all about. This year he is that bit older, so going to the parade provides an opportunity to discuss the importance of Pride specifically in relation to our family unit, and also introducing concepts of diversity, equality and inclusion to him.

Globe House lit up for Pride

How has B United helped you personally?

As one of the longest-serving members of the team, I like to think I have been at the vanguard of changing attitudes. So it’s hopefully more about how I have helped others from working in the background and being a visible LGBT+ role model. In terms of personal support, BAT provided great help to me and my husband when we adopted our son, on both a corporate level and through the supportive actions of some fantastically supportive peers and line managers. Although it wasn’t around at the time we adopted our son, it is great that the Parents@BAT support programme has formalised the support I received then for all LGBT+ parents.

What else does B United have planned for the rest of the year?

As well as the Pride parade, this year is the first time in two years that we are putting on our big, bold internal D&I summer event which is a great opportunity to celebrate Pride. It also gives non-LGBT+ employees an understanding of some of the challenges LGBT+ employees face and how they can be a supportive ally. Similarly in August we are running events at our R&D Centre in Southampton in conjunction with Southampton Pride. As always, in addition to these visible events, we will continue working the background with our HR partners and other functions within the business, primarily to raise awareness, but also to ensure BAT policies support LGBT+ employees. A focus for the rest of the year will be on packaging together our LGBT+ related employee rewards to ensure clarity to LGBT+ employees of the support available to them.