To mark LGBTQ+ history month, Pets at Home vet in practice and British Veterinary Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Association senior vice-president Dan Makin shares how the retailer is stepping up to support the LGBTQ+ community and their allies
As a gay man working within the veterinary profession for several years, I have experienced first hand the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ members of our profession and the impact this can have on physical and mental health.
At an early stage in my career, I had an employer step in and support me. While he wasn’t able to provide specific support regarding my sexuality, he didn’t need to. He simply cared enough to open up a conversation with me.
It was this that made me realise the importance of empathy and understanding in the workplace and is something that I have carried with me and have tried to bring to my role in the Pets at Home Group.
Creating workplaces that are safe and inclusive
The provision of a workplace that is welcoming, safe and inclusive is vital for a retail business to thrive and retain colleagues, as well as being critical in making it an attractive place to work for potential colleagues from all areas of society.
Over the past few years the words equality, inclusion and diversity have been embraced by many sectors of the retail industry. I am encouraged by the continued momentum this essential shift in attitudes continues to have.
“Over the past few years the words equality, inclusion and diversity have been embraced by many sectors of the retail industry. I am encouraged by the continued momentum this essential shift in attitudes continues to have”
I’m proud to be a vet working in a practice within our Pets at Home store in Dorset. It is both humbling and encouraging to see the whole Pets at Home Group embrace equality, diversity and inclusion. We employ a high number of colleagues from the LGBTQ+ community and have created a culture to make all staff feel valued.
I’m committed to making sure this passion, ambition and motivation are captured in all areas of the business, from the leadership teams at the top to the store and vet practice colleagues working together to support local communities.
Breaking down barriers
Even so, we know that there is more that we can do to remove the barriers some colleagues from the LGBTQ+ community face, through widening the knowledge and understanding of all colleagues – whether in our head office, vet practices or retail stores.
That’s why we’re proud to be marking this LGBTQ+ history month with the launch of our new network; raising awareness of the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
“An LGBTQ+ network raises awareness of the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace”
I am honoured to take up the role of network lead – along with Jamie Maddison, store area manager in the East, and Vlad Jiman, group head of analytics platform and data engineering – in our support office. We are supported by our executive sponsor Martin Squires who is a fantastic ally for our community.
I have listened to stories of discrimination experienced by individuals from the LGBTQ+ community many times throughout my career, and these unacceptable actions are what motivates me to help educate, support and advise colleagues.
While we are focused every day on putting the UK’s animals first, we also work hard to prioritise our colleagues, and our new network is an exciting step in educating and supporting all on equality, diversity and inclusion.
“This will be really important for our colleagues, as few of us fall neatly into one category”
For Jiman, it is the prevalence of discrimination and prejudice in wider society that is motivating him now: “Pets at Home has provided the structure, platform and resources required to roll out an effective diversity, inclusion and equality programme, and I think it is more important now than ever before to get involved.
“It is for this reason, combined with the opportunity to work with other incredibly passionate and like-minded colleagues that I volunteered to help launch the internal LGBTQ+ network, with an initial focus on representation and internal support groups.”
Maddison adds: “Working in our stores I see a unique and diverse team every day. Many of our colleagues want a support network and will see this as a positive step in the right direction.”
It’s a great time to be launching this network, alongside our other new networks focusing on gender, race and disability, and I’m looking forward to lots of collaboration between us all.
This will be really important for our colleagues, as few of us fall neatly into one category! I am confident that these will play a vital role in making sure we can all continue to work in an environment that is safe and inclusive, and where being your full self at work is not only embraced but encouraged.
A Be Inspired retail partner, Pets at Home is the UK’s leading pet care business, with a commitment to ensuring that the nation’s pet owners are able to get the best goods, services and care for their beloved animals. Whether this is online, in one of the 450 stores throughout the UK, at one of the 440 First Opinion vet practices or in the first-class grooming salons available in select stores.