Riding with Pride with TfL
Londoners have recently been treated to the sight of a rainbow-coloured bus winding its way through the streets of the capital.
Martyn Loukes from Transport for London (TfL) tells the story behind the bus and about his experience as chair of TfL’s LGBT network OUTbound.
Hopefully you’ve seen our rainbow New Routemaster bus roaming the streets of Shoreditch? We’re proud to be celebrating 10 years of our LGBT+ staff network, and I thought we needed to make a really bold statement about our commitment to diversity in London.
The bus in fact is Europe’s first, and comes hot on the heels of London’s first rainbow zebra crossing installed as part of Pride in London’s celebrations last year. The crossing has been rolled out for some unique moments in the gay calendar too – most recently for Student Pride at Westminster University at the end of February, and popping up at Trafalgar Square to celebrate full marriage equality on 10 December last year.
These are just two of the network’s recent achievements and form part of OUTbound’s community engagement strategy.
London is a truly diverse city and I’m proud to be working for an employer who is committed to championing equality and eliminating discrimination. We really want to make our staff feel proud to work for TfL, and some of the stuff that we have been involved in such as helping to formulate policies — from a Single Equality Scheme to introducing new Trans guidelines —aren’t always very sexy. So it’s nice to do something, big, bold and unique.
The importance of an LGBT+ staff network in companies can’t be underestimated either. It brings people together from very different backgrounds, giving them a chance to network and share experiences with like-minded people. TfL recognises that having network groups also helps to formulate policy, and they are generally the first point of contact if things need changing or reviewing.
There’s never a dull moment at TfL. It is a powerful and well known brand; I get people contacting me almost every day asking to work with the network. We launched our own Twitter feed this year (@TfLLGBT) and our level of engagement and communication is at an all time high. I really enjoy interacting with people about the work that we do, and it’s also a great way for our operational, non-office-based staff, who don’t typically work nine to five to contact us.
TfL has some very generous suppliers who have supported OUTbound’s plans and ideas over the years helping to produce the rainbow zebra crossing and the rainbow bus at no cost to TfL.
OUTbound also works with the other staff network groups at TfL, and shares best practices with other organisations from PwC to Fujitsu. LGBT network groups tend to be some of the most active, and vibrant — and really can make changes.
I’ve been Chair of OUTbound for the past two and a half years and will be stepping down at the end of this year. I know it is going to be incredibly difficult to let go but I also believe that when my time is over then it will be a good opportunity for some new blood to take OUTbound forward. The great thing about running a network that’s doing so well is that there will be plenty of people wanting to build on that success and I’ll make sure I’m around to help.
In terms of any legacy I have left, I would say I’ve made our network really visible not only to our 28,000 staff but to Londoners, their families and other LGBT visitors to London.
I hope it inspires others to get involved with and create or influence their own networks.