Viewpoint | 04 Jun 2024

Why I’m proud to be Vodafone UK’s new LGBT+ Executive Sponsor

Andrea Donà, Chief Network Officer & Network Director at Vodafone UK, explains what becoming the company’s new Executive Sponsor for the LGBT+ and Friends Network means to him, ahead of Pride 2024.

Founded in 1222 by local students searching for greater academic freedom, the University of Padua – where I was fortunate enough to study telecommunication engineering for six years – has since proudly adopted the motto: ‘Universa universis patavina libertas’.

Translated to English, this means: ‘Paduan freedom is universal for everyone’ – a sentiment that is as relevant today as it was all those years ago. But freedom, in any sense, is only possible if you are able to bring your best self to the task in front of you.

This is no truer than in the workplace, where inclusivity, diversity and belonging are repeatedly shown to correlate with greater creativity and business success. For instance:

In addition to these great business benefits, creating a diverse workplace where all employees can thrive is simply the right thing to do.

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Vodafone UK’s LGBT+ and Friends Network

Which is why I’m both honoured and excited to have been appointed the new Executive Sponsor of Vodafone UK’s LGBT+ and Friends Network – a community that champions diversity, inclusion and belonging above all else.

Having worked in the telecoms industry for roughly 25 years since graduating, at some of the sector’s largest companies, there’s not much that I haven’t seen when it comes to networks, systems and operations.

But upon joining Vodafone in 2019, I was pleasantly surprised by just how seriously they took the human side of telecoms. After all, beyond the equipment, it’s the people that really make the magic happen.

"I'm both honoured and excited to have been appointed the new Executive Sponsor of Vodafone UK's LGBT+ and Friends Network - a community that champions diversity, inclusion and belonging."

We do this through the ‘Spirit of Vodafone’, a cultural framework developed by our people and shared by all Vodafone employees, no matter which team they work in. Built on four key behaviours, it helps create a workplace where everyone can truly be themselves.

Given that this cultural focus was one of the reasons why I decided to join Vodafone UK in the first place, I’m thrilled to be able to put these behaviours into action – especially during one of the most community-driven events of the annual calendar.

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Pride 2024

Pride is an occasion that we’re always excited to celebrate here at Vodafone, since we are continually working to create an environment that champions inclusion, celebrates diversity, and ensures every individual feels both supported and connected.

This year, as ever, we’re hosting a series of internal discussions for our people at Vodafone. Among other topics, these events will delve into the importance of identity, intersectionality and LGBT+ history.

We are also sponsoring Newbury Pride on July 13, Bi Pride on August 31 in London, and remain proud partners of Mighty Hoopla festival – a fantastic two-day event in London with freedom, expressionism and inclusivity at its heart.

Finally, we are proud to continue supporting initiatives that do good in the world, such as the Zoteria app. Developed by Vodafone Foundation, in partnership with anti-abuse charity Galop and LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall, Zoteria allows people to report incidents of hate crime directly to LGBT+ support organisations. It also provides information related to news, events and services for the community.

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Committed to the cause

I’ve always been incredibly proud of our commitment to equality and the strong progress that I’ve witnessed, in all areas, across the five years that I’ve been here.

Looking ahead, we need to ensure Vodafone UK remains a place of work where everyone can be themselves, as well as a safe space for the LGBT+ community to raise their voices and increase allyship.

Now, as Executive Sponsor of Vodafone UK’s LGBT+ and Friends Network, I’m excited to have the opportunity to not only deepen my support for the LGBT+ community, but to help expand our network, increase LGBT+ representation across Vodafone, and ensure nobody is left behind.

I know I have a lot to learn in order to effectively support all members of the LGBT+ community but, thanks to the experience and expertise that exists throughout Vodafone and our LGBT+ network, I’m confident that – together – we can ensure freedom and equality remain ‘universal for everyone’.

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