As part of EuropeActive’s commitment to promote and safeguard an inclusive and welcoming environment for all across the fitness and physical activity ecosystem, we are acknowledging and celebrating the LGBTIQ+ community and Pride Month. As of such we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on inspiring stakeholders who are proactively acknowledging, supporting, and celebrating the LGBTIQ+ community. This is further correlated with our European activities as it falls under our awareness-raising activities for our #HealthyLifestyle4All pledge.
Les Mills International is covering impressive ground when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion work. Their CEO, Clive Ormerod, agreed to share some insights with us!
Les Mills has committed to becoming a LGBTQIA inclusive employer, through their enrolment onto the Rainbow Tick Standard. Can you tell us a little more about the standard and why you felt it was important to sign up to it?
Rainbow Tick is a New Zealand organization working with businesses to help them create a supportive work environment that understands and welcomes sexual and gender diversity. It’s our ongoing commitment to ensure our organization reflects the community around it; where LGBTTQIA+ (in NZ the acronym carries an extra T) people are seen, and can see themselves at all levels.
As a leader, I believe Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) means creating an open, positive and supportive culture so that everyone has a seat at the table and feels free to push forward without fear of failure. I get energy from people and helping them to be at their very best, so it’s a real passion project for me to help remove barriers and unlock potential. Les Mills achieved our Rainbow Tick certification in record time, but a big part of why we chose them as a partner is because you have to improve year-on-year in order to be recertified – the work never stops.
As CEO you put in place mandatory education for Senior Leadership Teams around rainbow inclusion. What has been the impact of this training on senior leaders and how are they filtering down their learnings, to encourage all employees into becoming LGBTTQIA+ allies?
The impact of this education is always first and foremost going to be greater awareness, particularly for those without lived experience in a marginalised identity. Giving people the right language to use is a powerful tool for them to have conversations through this lens across the whole business they touch. Many groups of people still face systemic disadvantages, so it’s incumbent on us to take deliberate steps to tackle these barriers head-on to create a fairer working environment where everyone has the chance to be at their best.
Our educational workshops are open to all teammates, and having a session specifically taken up by the Senior Team each time highlights the importance of the work to the wider organisation and further encourages other teammates to engage with these learning opportunities. We also bookmark some of our workshops for People & Functional Leaders so there is a real sense of ‘leading from the front’.
As an organisation you offer 'open up sessions' which provide employees the opportunity to engage in respectful debate and challenge the business around EDI. How do you ensure all employees feel welcome at these sessions, especially if they have an opposing opinion to the majority?
Having these sessions regularly has started to help created an environment of trust and transparency that is further built upon every time we have another OPEN UP conversation. One of our company values is ‘Be Brave’, and we encourage this regardless of what our teammates are being brave about. We have a live Q&A digital sidebar during each panel session, where teammates can submit bold questions and their colleagues can vote for questions to be answered that they may not have felt comfortable asking themselves. Any questions left unanswered during the live panel are answered in writing as a follow-up.
These OPEN UP conversations are supported by the Senior Team and CEO, but not led by them, creating an egalitarian atmosphere centred around our people. We intentionally hold these conversations regularly and frame them around different topics with relevant panellists (International Women’s Day, Pride Month, Black History Month, etc…) to try to capture as many of our teammates’ thoughts and challenges as possible. Challenging questions and radical transparency in one of these sessions was actually what led to us taking up Rainbow Tick accreditation in the first place.
To go further:
- Les Mills celebrating four of their top trainers who are part of the LGBTTQIA+ fitness community (28 May 022) here
- More information, and resources, about Diversity, Equity + Inclusion at Les Mills
- Les Mills’ Black Lives Matter statement and resources (June 2020)
- Les Mills’ planet and community projects