As I said in my recent newsletter, it has now been two years since we launched our campaign at Westminster, releasing our Role Model Posters and our LGBT+ Inclusive Workplaces Bargaining Standard. Inclusive Rail has fast become one of the most important campaigns TSSA has run in the 21st century. We have achieved many things over these past two years, and all TSSA members can and should be proud to promote this campaign for inclusion in their workplace. Our aim is to make the railway inclusive for LGBT+ people by 2025. An ambitious aim, but one that will impact all members of TSSA should we achieve it. In this blog post, I will outline three main reasons why all members of TSSA should support, promote and get involved in Inclusive Rail. At the very least this is because the support and interest we get from members regarding this campaign has outweighed any other campaign of recent times.
1) We can learn from our Inclusive Rail success
Our Time to Grow Strategy action point 12 is ‘Learn from Ourselves and Others’ and this is exactly the case with our successes from Inclusive Rail. All the things we have done for Inclusive Rail can be done for other campaigns and help other groups of workers. Everything can be applied in other work from the campaign activities to the materials we have developed and the monthly communication we have established with all members.
We have engaged over 5000 people in our campaign activities to date through a variety of ways. People have joined TSSA, completed #NoBystanders cards, become active in our LGBT+ Network, participated in our 5-year placard challenge to share what you think will make the railway inclusive by 2025, attended network and forum events and visited our workplace stalls and education sessions. That means almost all those 5000 contacts have actually been 5000 conversations, where we have been able to build visibility of TSSA, share our values, and the reasons why people should join and get involved in TSSA. As a result, we have built our LGBT+ Network from 5 people to 50+ members. The response we have had on the materials such as our powerful Role Model posters has led to opportunities for our members to share our campaign and aspirations with others, at conferences such as Network Rail’s Archway conference, Stonewall’s prestigious Annual Workplace Conference and globally, with international trade union federations. More directly, reps are seeing the value of applying this learning to their own projects. Gurprit Bhakar, TSSA BAME Network member attended our Equality in the Workplace seminar in 2019 and heard about our invitation for members to become LGBT+ allies: ‘We can encourage people to be allies for BAME workers too’.
2) Respected colleagues and workplace leaders are joining TSSA
Shane Andrews, Chair of Archway, has been a TSSA member for many years and has volunteered to be a new Role Model on our poster series. He has volunteered to be a part of our poster campaign because it enables him to be a visible face of LGBT+. Shane feels that being part of TSSA helps him achieve his vision as the new Chair of Archway, Network Rail's LGBT+ Staff Network. He says on his poster:"Increasing LGBT+ representation in the rail industry is important, as people who can be their true self are happier at work. As a TSSA role model and LGBT leader, I hope to inspire others."
Shane is one of many LGBT+ leaders in the rail industry who have joined because they are taking up leadership roles in the workplace and see the work we have done with Inclusive Rail as supporting their vision.
3) We are setting the standard in the industry
We launched our very first Equality Bargaining Standard as part of the Inclusive Rail campaign in 2018. Over the past two years, we have gained commitments from companies to work towards our bronze, silver and gold standards for LGBT+ Inclusive Workplaces. Now two years on, we are beginning our first audits against our very own standard. In conjunction with Stonewall, we are helping companies on their journey of inclusion and leading the industry through our Inclusive Rail Industry Forum and our new LGBT+ Inclusive Workplaces Community of Practice. Everything we are doing in our Community of Practice will guide companies to achieve our gold standard, whilst also enabling our members to show leadership in their workplaces on LGBT+ issues. This model of working, including the use of Bargaining Standards, is being replicated in other areas of equality (see our Neurodiversity at Work Equality Bargaining Standard) and has the potential to support our industrial bargaining also. Inclusive Rail has proven that our members engaging with companies over standards is a successful strategy for our whole union.
And finally, there is a change within TSSA to become a more welcoming, inclusive organisation that doesn’t just talk about our values - we live them. This is demonstrated throughout the Inclusive Rail campaign and gives TSSA a level of credibility within the rail industry and throughout the UK and Ireland that it has never had before. We are proving month to month that we are not shying away from addressing hard issues and campaigning to change people’s lives. That is exactly what Inclusive Rail is trying to do and it is working. Through campaigns like Inclusive Rail, we will build a bigger, stronger and more inclusive, TSSA.