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  • Writer's pictureNick Lansley

Out At Tesco – and I’m staffing the Tesco stand at Careers Show

Sorry for this off-topic message but, in the light of feedback concerning the announcement of Tesco’s new staff network “Out At Tesco” (of which I am a committee member), I am taking the opportunity here to help readers understand why such a network exists and to announce that I will be hosting the Tesco stand at a recruitment fair taking place next Friday 20th November in Covent Garden, London (so come and say hello!).


I will be staffing the Tesco stand at the Diversity Careers Show on Friday 20 November 2009, 11.00am to 5.30pm at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London. More info at

What ever your diversity, I’ll hope to see you there!


Yesterday, Tesco announced that a new staff network was now officially launched (see further down this post for the original message from our Communications team).

Called “Out At Tesco’, the network invites lesbian, gay, biexual and transgender members of Tesco staff to join. The network’s web site is at

Several well meaning straight colleagues have asked me, “What is this new lesbian & gay network and why has one been set up?” It’s often difficult to describe to people who have never considered hiding their private lives from their work colleagues because of a fear (real or imagined) that they will be stereotyped or possibly discriminated against.

Many gay people have in the past hidden their non-work lives away for this reason. This has led to some not even trying for a promotion because they fear they will have to ‘expose’ more about their lives than they want to.

We all know how it goes: as we join a team and get to know our colleagues, we naturally like to ask about lives outside Tesco. Yet how many of us who are gay have referred to our partners as ‘they’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’?

We find that the best way to help people overcome their prejudices is to have a conscious awareness that gay colleagues are working alongside them, and that the company (through the ‘Everyone Is Welcome At Tesco’ initiative) is taking our initiative very seriously.

‘Out At Tesco’ is all about raising awareness of gay people in our organisation; that ‘we are here’ and that we are welcome at Tesco too. It also highlights to gay staff that they ‘have a place to go’ to find friendship, mentoring, and social activities in their branch or office and across the company.

I will be mentoring gay colleagues to apply for promotions or new roles that they have not had the confidence to do so before. My mentoring helps to give them the mental tools to “be themselves”. They are, after all, normal worthy people but whose self-confidence may have suffered at the hands of prejudice, and they need to overcome this extra hurdle that their straight colleagues have never encountered.

However, we draw the line at positive discrimination. Once you (have the confidence to) apply for a new role, the ‘playing field’ is level for all applicants, and the best candidate will get the job. Simple as that.

Why is Tesco doing this? Simple; we want to recruit and retain the best people who can help our organisation. We also want to recruit a workforce that reflects our customers. We strive to understand customers better than anyone else, so it helps that our staff reflect our customer base, whether internationally or serving their store’s local community.

Perhaps now you being to understand why we take our slogan, ‘every little helps’ so seriously. It focuses our energies in everything we do – and that includes our staff.

Sorry to be off-topic but I felt this was important – let’s get back to the tech.


Subject: Launch of “Out at Tesco” Network

From: Internal Communications

Sent: 12 November 2009 16:54

For information to all staff

We are delighted to announce the launch of the “Out at Tesco” Network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff.

We live the Values by making sure everybody feels welcome at Tesco and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to get on regardless of their ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation. The Out at Tesco Network has been formed to attract, support and develop gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, by helping to create an environment in which they feel safe being themselves at work, whether or not they choose to be open about their sexuality.

The network organises regular networking and social events, has plans to roll out a mentoring service, and connects LGBT employees with each other. It also works to raise funds for the Tesco Charity of the Year.

The network has been set up by The Diversity Council on behalf of Everyone’s Welcome at Tesco. Retail Services CEO and main board director Andrew Higginson has agreed to sponsor the network across the Group. Tesco Bank CEO Benny Higgins will provide senior sponsorship in Scotland, and Business Development Director Daniel Gilsenan, who is openly gay, will act as the Network’s senior mentor.

Membership and participation in the Network is open to all employees, and is completely confidential. If you are interested to know more or get involved we encourage you to visit the Network’s website at, or contact them by email in confidence to

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