28 Apr 2021
Whoever you are and whatever you do at United Utilities, you can bring you whole self
At United Utilities, our LGBT+ employee network plays a central role in driving our diversity and inclusion agenda.
The network comprises some 230 employees from across the whole business – from field to boardroom the network’s membership and its allies are varied, and we want it that way.
Whoever you are and whatever you do at United Utilities, one thing’s for sure – you can bring you whole self!
For Lesbian Visibility Week, we spoke to two employees about life at United Utilities and what coming out at work felt like for each of them.
Jane Tatchell is a water customer technician who’s worked for us for almost 21 years. Her role involves visiting sites when a call comes in from customers regarding their clean water supply. Anything from water quality to leaks, defective apparatus to new connections Jane’s one of our women on the ground, who fixes our customer's supply.
“I came out gradually as I settled in at work and got to know people. All my colleagues were very welcoming and I don’t remember feeling uncomfortable. I’ve never been one to announce my sexuality as, really, why should I? So I waited until it felt right to talk about my private life with them.
“We have so many different types of teams at United Utilities – office based, rural teams, site based etc. and I can honestly say I haven’t faced direct homophobia from anyone. I would hope that in this day and age every experience would be positive one and if not, I know I can rely on the support of our LGBT+ network.
“The advice I got from someone in the network early on was to always seek advice from a manager or HR if there was ever a big problem with prejudice. I thought that was a good sign that senior managers were switched on when it came to diversity within the employee base.”
Emma Jolly, our HR development schemes administrator, had similar advice when she joined the company six years ago.
Emma says knowing there’s a dedicated network at United Utilities, for employees who are part of the LGBT+ community – and a very visible network at that – reassures her she’ll always have a place to go if she ever felt unaccepted, inside or outside of work.
"When I arrived at United Utilities, I looked forward to the fresh start and was determined not to be in the closet. I wanted to join in conversations rather than generalise and to share stuff that was important to me.
“What I quickly realised, was that although it was a big deal to me, it just wasn’t to the people I worked with. To them, it didn’t matter – I was just Emma.
"Before joining United Utilities, I’d never been a member of a work-based LGBT+ network before. I’ve made so many friends through the network – more than I’ve ever had! I also love taking part in the various Pride events we do – I feel really proud to represent United Utilities.
“I’m now on the steering group for the network – I’m so passionate about driving inclusion at the company, and it’s reassuring to know the sentiment is certainly reciprocated.”