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Sean Haley and Chris Bray, Pride

Positive Impact

Supporting Pride in Manchester

For the second year in a row, Sodexo took part in Pride in London. On Saturday 24 August, for the first time, 50 employees will march in the Manchester Pride parade. Chris Bray, CEO Sports & Leisure UK & Ireland, offers his opinion on 'Corporate Pride' and discusses Sodexo's LGBT+ marching success.

Sean and Chris

"Unfortunately, I can’t make it this year's Manchester Pride, but my good friend and Chair of Sodexo UK & Ireland, Sean Haley, will be part of the team walking for LGBT+ inclusion, LGBT+ human rights, and to celebrate the fact that love is love.

"Whilst within our organisation our involvement in the parades has been deemed a great success, I’ve been reading in the news about the disdain shown towards ‘Corporate Pride’ and the takeover of the celebration by corporate sponsorship, so I wanted to put my point of view in the mix.

"‘Corporate Pride’ sounds shallow. It implies a rainbow-gloss marketing campaign to sell more units of a product - a faceless corporate entity throwing money at a cause to appear as if it cares. 

"As a senior leader in our organisation, I’d like to quash any thoughts that our involvement in Pride was dreamt up in the board room, or stemmed from a vapid marketing strategy. 

"The decision to be there in London and Manchester came frompeople within our dedicated employee network. The Pride UK & Ireland network committee, made up of non-senior employees from across the business, decided this was something that they wanted to do. They felt that this would be a good demonstration, not only to the rest of the company, but the world outside, that we are ‘out and proud’. 

"It was their idea; they came to me and convinced me that this was something Sodexo needed to do. And I’m really glad we did. 

"The organising of our involvement in Pride is done by real people. When banners need to be made, t-shirts need to be designed and ordered, logistics need to be worked out and booked, our people are there.

"In total 80 people at Sodexo have decided that they want to walk on behalf of the company in the parades. Some are LGBT+, all are allies."

We employ over 36,000 people in the UK and Ireland, and we want everyone at our work place to know that they are safe and valued for who they are. 

"This is about us nailing our colours to the mast and saying: “With us, you can be yourself. We’re standing by you, and we’re not going to tolerate any kind of discrimination or violence against the LGBT+ community.

"And yet, this is a celebration. A celebration of people being able to be themselves and live a life without discrimination. That’s what the LGBT+ community have taught the rest of us. We all deserve that. 

"Sodexo is a ‘corporate’, but it’s created by people. And it’s because of the people that we are marching."

Written by Chris Bray, CEO Sports & Leisure UK & Ireland, Executive Sponsor of Sodexo Pride UK&I and proud LGBT+ ally.

August 20, 2019

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