Meet Tiffany, Mike and Imogen, members of our wonderful team here at City Pantry! In celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month, we sat down over lunch to discuss what the LGBTQ+ community means to them and why inclusive workplaces are so important.
Making people’s working lives better is our mission at City Pantry, and that obviously extends to our wonderful team of City Pantlers too! Supporting and celebrating each other is our daily norm and with February being LGBTQ+ History month, we’re celebrating a few of our fantastic Pantlers to celebrate the queer community!
What are you looking for when you join a new company? How important is LGBTQ+ support in the workplace?
Tiff: Aside from what the role is, I always like to get a vibe from the people who work there - if they seem friendly that’s super important, as you’ll be with them for many hours a day! LGBTQ+ support in the workplace is super important - you don’t want to feel like you have to hide who you truly are, and so a supportive environment is not only key to being successful professionally, but also helps on an individual level.
Imogen: It is so important to love your job and the people you work with. You are at work more than you are at home! City Pantry has such a warm, friendly atmosphere and everyone is willing to help in whatever way they can, which is so lovely! Having experienced homophobia in the workplace, it is lovely to be in such an accepting and inclusive company!
Mike: It’s extremely important! A culture of inclusivity that recognises the value and importance of diversity is essential. Not only for basic respect and rights but to recognise that diversity of thought and avoidance of group-think enables much more creativity, ingenuity, and challenger-thinking. In order to achieve this, companies must avoid pink-washing, recognise institutional oppression, and ensure that inclusivity, openness, and honesty are truly at the core of its values.
In what ways do you feel City Pantry takes care of its employees?
Tiff: In so many ways! There’s the buddy system from the day you join, team members and management who are super supportive and always happy to grab a coffee if you want a chat, and also the constant food - happy tummy, happy me!
Imogen: LUNCH - obviously! Equally there are some really nice team building exercises - we do monthly ‘doughnuts’ where you are given your doughnut (a person within the company) that you have to go and do an activity with - such a nice way to get to know everyone!
Mike: Making employees’ working lives better is our mission at City Pantry and so taking care of us is at the heart of what we do. I’m proud that we’ve recently built out a fantastic people-team headed up by our amazing Chief People Officer, Jenny, and also have the DCA (Department of Cultural Affairs) dedicated to wellbeing and events. We work hard to encourage a culture of openness and acceptance, where people are free to be themselves, no matter their gender expression or sexuality
Have you ever felt the need to "come out" at work?
Tiff: I don’t think I’ve even needed to (I reckon I’m visibly queer), but years ago I did feel the need to hide my sexuality - it was never brought up or discussed but I definitely felt like I was hiding it. I wasn’t actually “out” to my family at the time and so I wouldn’t tell colleagues what I’d actually been up to that weekend and I wouldn’t discuss my partner in any detail. These things really take a toll on a person, it’s hard to remember who you told what to. The closet is a suffocating place!
Imogen: EVERY TIME! In previous jobs I have avoided talking about the girl I was dating for as long as possible because the potential reactions filled me with nerves to the point I would feel sick! However, starting at City Pantry I didn’t have that! Everyone in the office is so welcoming and friendly, I'd spoken about my sexuality within days and felt so comfortable talking about it which was SO refreshing!
Mike: For me, there’s never been a need! I’m lucky to have been a part of building the culture of openness and inclusivity that we have today. Representation is really important for those less confident or senior so I’ve tried to become more vocal, ensuring that diversity is known even when it’s less visible.
Who or what positive influences have you had in your path of coming out?
Tiff: I think any time I saw a happy queer person on the street, in a bar or on television I have had a positive influence. Anyone living their true, authentic self is truly inspiring.
Imogen: I grew up in the countryside and was literally the only ‘gay in the village’ *insert Little Britain GIF.* So I came out as a rather lone wolf, not knowing anyone in the LGBTQ+ community. However, when I got to college I met a dear friend of mine who’s sister was Bisexual. Her and her girlfriend at the time really helped me to be comfortable and gave me all the girl advice I needed!
Mike: Self-expression, self-love, and happiness have always been core values of those close to me. I’m privileged to be surrounded by family, friends, and community who are extremely supportive and I have never felt pressured to conform to something I’m not. It’s not easy, and having more and more LGBT voices in the media from the likes of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to Angelina Jolie and Tom Daley, is essential to encouraging everyone to speak their truth.
What have you found to be the best part about the LGBTQ+ community?
Tiff: How fierce and resilient (and beautiful) it is! There are, of course, issues within the community (as with any community), but it is constantly challenging itself and its members to do, think, and behave better and it holds itself accountable. It is, on the whole, pretty inclusive and it is such a force to be reckoned with in terms of educating the wider society. The LGBTQ+ community is SO beautiful, and I am extremely proud and lucky to be a part of it!
Imogen: The inclusivity! Everyone should take a trip to Brighton Pride and enjoy the overwhelming happiness you experience! Everyone is there to have the best time, no one is being judged, just people loving people! It’s the nicest environment whether part of the LGBTQ+ community or not! GO AND BE AN ALLY!
Mike: Where to start! The culture and everything it encompasses; an incredible, fun, and supportive community. The music, the movies, and the literature. The history, the language, and everything that the community has enabled me to discover, appreciate, and love, about myself and others.
We're hiring! You've seen us on the tube , on Instagram, or delivering to the office next door. Want a pizza the action? We're looking for food-fanatics who are craving a new challenge and can bring something egg-citing to the table.
At City Pantry, your happiness is just as important as our customers', so join a company that's raisin the roof and carving a new path in the Food Tech industry. Check out some great rolls (sorry not sorry)on the link below.
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