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Learn from LGBT champions for a successful network

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Compass Group's Melanie Hayes shares her experiences of setting up a LGBT network

Organisations should learn from "LGBT champions” when setting up LGBT networks, according to Melanie Hayes, resourcing and development director at Compass Group UK & Ireland.

Compass Group launched its new LGBT network at the end of May and is holding listening groups for two months to enable early members to help shape its strategy.

“If this is something you have been thinking about but weren’t sure where to start, there are so many people out there who can help you,” Hayes told HR magazine. “Speak to the LGBT champions that are out there, and the fantastic organisations such as Stonewall and OUTstanding. The more feedback you can get from others who have set up networks on how to ensure they are effective, the better.”

Compass Group has received advice from many different sources, both from within the business and from outside. “We are really lucky that we have been mentored by a global financial services organisation so we have been able to leverage their experiences,” Hayes said. “It’s important that the network is supported by the company’s executive board and we will shortly be announcing Oliver Cock, MD of Foodbuy, as our executive sponsor for the LGBT and Allies Network.

“Identifying allies [a heterosexual or cisgender person who supports LGBT social movements] who are going to support the network is useful too, and this helps to ensure you are working together to provide an inclusive environment for all colleagues.”

So far Hayes has been delighted with the reaction to the network. “We have had such a positive response,” she said. “We have asked people to put their names forward to participate with the running of the network and have been overwhelmed by the interest from people who either want to be involved as a LGBT person or an ally, which is fantastic.

“I believe that our LGBT network will bring real value to our business and ultimately provide an inclusive and open environment for staff, ensuring a great outcome for everyone. We fundamentally want to ensure that people feel comfortable to bring their true selves to and have great days at work.”