One way that we’re doing this is through working groups and colleague networks. Representation and a sense of community are important aspects of inclusion and throughout the wider Travis Perkins group we have a variety of networks – such as a Women’s Network, TP Proud, BAME and Allies and the TP Group Mental Health Community – that connect colleagues as a means of achieving this
Crucially, the networks are open to anyone that wants to join them, and this is an important way of building understanding, developing empathy and encouraging people to stand up as allies when needed. For example, when it was first founded, the Women’s Network was only attended by female colleagues, but we quickly realised that in order for it to be effective we needed proper cross-sectional engagement and the participation of our male colleagues.
Now, it is one of our most well-supported groups and some of the ideas that have been put forward are being discussed at group leadership level, with the hope that they may become policy. I have heard the term ‘lighting little fires’ used by a colleague, which I think is a wonderful description of how the groups spark awareness and discussion throughout the business which can, collectively, translate into bigger pieces of action.
Tackling behaviour patterns that have become established over many years is not easy and, undeniably, there are difficult conversations and hard self-reflection that need to take place. But I truly believe that with education, empathy and the courage to stand up for what we believe, it is absolutely possible to level the playing field so that every member of our team can thrive based on their merit and individual contribution.