Pride Month 2020: The PROUD Network

  • 24 June 2020

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Here at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG we champion inclusivity in the workplace. Many members of our staff from across the organisation are working together as part of a group called the PROUD Network, to help ensure all staff who are part of our LGBTQ+ community are recognised, supported and valued.

As part of Pride Month 2020, we caught up with Deborah Rumming-Harris, Secretary of our brilliant PROUD Network, who told us a bit about the work they’re doing:

What is the PROUD Network?

"The Proud Network was set up in June 2019 by colleagues across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG with the aim to promote diversity in the workplace."

What does it do?

"Our network works to provide support to colleagues from LGBTQ+ backgrounds. We are also committed to providing learning to better understand LGBTQ+ identities and terminology, in the hope that we can overcome any barriers and continue to promote an inclusive environment. In addition, we have progressed work to review our policies and procedures, working with Stonewall to meet a number of objectives, plus we’re collaborating with networks within Bristol City Council and Bristol University to both capture learning and build relationships."

When did the PROUD Network start and why?

“The CCG provided the opportunity for internal staff members to vote for a new staff network in May 2019, with the majority of votes cast for a new LGBTQ+ network. Colleagues were then provided the opportunity to volunteer to both create and run the network the following month. Despite starting with a small number of colleagues, we were united with our passion to push our work forward and create a network which would promote inclusivity."

How is the PROUD Network structured and what do your members do?

“At present our network consists of approx. 15 core members, who vary from administration staff to senior managers and cover a range of Directorates. Utilising skills sets within the network, we have identified a number of roles which help us to organise our work:

  • Chair: Three members of the network who help to oversee decisions and chair meetings;
  • Secretary: Responsible for coordinating meetings and overseeing the day to day inbox queries and workloads; and
  • Communications Support: To assist with internal and external promotion.

Within the group, we have a number of colleagues who take on responsibility to share information through presentations and/or blogs and those who are on hand to support with numerous activities which we partake in.”

What kinds of projects has the PROUD Network undertaken?

“We are lucky to have been involved in a number of projects to date, including:

  • Internal Pride celebrations: we’ve held a number of events throughout Pride week to promote diversity in the workplace.
  • Participation in ‘Out in the Workplace’ booklet where we worked with a number of organisations throughout Bristol to demonstrate the work ongoing within the CCG.
  • ‘Transgender Day of Remembrance’, taking the time to remember those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.
  • Working with Stonewall to achieve specific year one membership objectives, including communications, recruitment and policy reviews.”

What are some of the challenges the PROUD Network has encountered?

“We are proud to say that the majority of our activities have been met with overwhelming positivity, with occasional constructive feedback provided to help us improve some areas for future activities.”

Have there been any highlights to date?

“Our highlight has to be the first internal Pride event last year, which was coordinated in less than two weeks! As a new network, we all worked together to write blogs, create ‘meet the network’ documents to introduce ourselves, and host a number of events which would appeal to colleagues (including taking over our kitchen areas to post education articles and facts relating to Pride). This resulted in positive feedback and really helped to kick-start our group!”

Can you tell us about some of the events the PROUD Network has held?

“We’ve worked hard to coordinate a number of events and activities over the past year:

  • Lunch and learn sessions including. ‘Navigating Sex and Gender’ and ‘How to be an Ally’.
  • Pride events.
  • Working with Stonewall and our HR managers to undertake a number of workplace objectives.
  • ‘Transgender Day of Remembrance’ to formally acknowledge those in the Trans community who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.
  • Taking the opportunity to build relationships with external colleagues, hosting working lunches and working towards shared activities.”

How is the PROUD Network making a difference?

“We’ve been overwhelmed at the support from colleagues across the CCG. The high attendance at our lunch and learn sessions have spoken volumes, demonstrating that colleagues are interested in learning more about our Network, as well as understanding and challenging unconscious bias. We have also introduced rainbow badges and lanyards, providing colleagues with the chance to visibly show support, which was so successful that we ran out of supplies on our first day! Practically, we have created an environment where colleagues are not afraid to ask questions and learn from the network’s experience.”

Why do you think Pride month, LGBTQ history month etc should be formally recognised within the workplace?

“It‘s so important for organisations to celebrate LGBTQ+ occasions because it demonstrates that all employees are accepted without exception, plus creates higher job satisfaction. The skills and experience which are brought into an organisation through being inclusive provides greater innovation and problem solving, which goes towards achieving success. By supporting activities, such as LGBTQ+ history month, organisations are showing that they are an inclusive employer and recognise the benefits which this brings. We welcome colleagues of all backgrounds to join our network to support our work within the CCG, and encourage them to sign up to become an ally.”

The PROUD Network are currently gearing themselves up for this year’s Pride (week of 6 July) and will be celebrating virtually with a wide range of events for CCG staff, including a ‘Virtual Kitchen Club’, quizzes, lunch sessions with some special guest speakers, to name but a few! If you’d like to know more details or about the PROUD Network generally, its work, what it’s all about, and how to get involved, then please do get in touch at bnssg.proudnetwork@nhs.net

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