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Morson create inclusive teams with rainbow safety laces | Wear your laces with pride!

  • Publish Date: Posted 8 months ago
  • Author: Jessica Tabinor

  • In September, we launched our Rainbow Laces campaign which saw hundreds of Morson track operatives working on the London Underground given rainbow-striped laces for their safety boots in celebration and support of the LGBT community.

  • To celebrate Rainbow Laces Day 2019, we reflect on the successes of our Rainbow Laces initiative, find out more about the reaction on track and look to the future at what Morson is doing to create truly inclusive workforces.

Our rail infrastructure is the framework which unites the UK. An exciting and varied industry, its clients and projects offer a wealth of employment opportunities for people of all backgrounds. That includes lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people. You’ll find people in your everyday lives who are out and open about their sexual orientation and gender identity. These individuals feel supported and empowered to work within our diverse industry. This is often down to the hard work of colleagues and role models at all levels of organisations. However, many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people continue to feel (and expect) that the rail industry may not welcome them. They often feel that it’s best to keep that part of themselves private or worry that people might react badly if they are found out. Gender stereotypes, bullying at school and a lack of visible LGBT role models create barriers which prevent young people and adults from being themselves and applying for roles within our sector.

In September, we launched our Rainbow Laces campaign which saw hundreds of Morson track operatives working on the London Underground given rainbow-striped laces for their safety boots in celebration and support of the LGBT community.

To celebrate Rainbow Laces Day 2019, we reflect on the successes of our Rainbow Laces initiative, find out more about the reaction on track and look to the future at what Morson is doing to create truly inclusive workforces.

Gareth Morris, HSQE Director discusses the campaign:

“The origin of our Rainbow Safety Boot Laces campaign initiated with our diversity partner, Stonewall. They put rainbow laces into sportswear to raise awareness of LGBT inclusion in sport. We’ve taken this simple yet prominent symbol of inclusion and delivered laces for safety boots to show that we’re visible allies of the LGBTQ+ community. So far, we’ve seen that it’s helped to encourage conversation in what its often seen as quite a macho environment. We want people to see that it doesn’t have to be like that and that things are changing.”

The Government estimates 3.9 million people or 6% of the population identify as lesbian, gay or bi in the UK. It is estimated that 650,000 people, or 1% of the population identify as trans in Great Britain. Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people come from all communities and backgrounds including people of different faiths, people with disabilities and people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Sam Price, head of client engagement at Morson talks about the meaning behind the laces:

“The LGBTQ+ pride flag, more commonly known as the rainbow flag, is a prolific symbol of allyship and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s universally recognised and most importantly, it unites people, which is exactly what we wanted to replicate with our Rainbow Laces initiative. If it starts a conversation that perhaps may not have happened, or  we break down one barrier for one person who wasn’t considering a track operative career, then we’ve achieved success.”

In addition to the laces forming part of the Operatives’ uniform, all contractors are being thoroughly briefed on the meaning behind the laces, whilst also receiving new training in fairness, inclusion and respect to encourage discussions and promote openness and acceptance.

“We’ve provided our workforce with the education and tools to build awareness and support members of the LGBTQ+ community. The track environment has always been perceived as not accessible and we’ve challenged that, addressing it head-on”

The reaction on track

To find out more about the reaction on track, we spoke to Denis MacDonald who works night shifts as an HSE advisor at our Canning Town branch…

“The track operatives they have fully appreciated why we are raising awareness of LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace. The laces have sparked conversation everywhere I have been, which I believe is great! Not only have we encouraged those to speak up on their views, which is the whole point of inclusivity in the first place; we have also shown that we do listen and are willing to follow the current trends and adapt where necessary.”

“We work in a predominantly male industry (track teams) and the men I have encountered throughout my travels have been nothing but welcoming and encouraging of our rainbow laces campaign.”


Stereotypes about lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in the workplace

Stereotyping about sexual orientation, gender and gender identity affects who feels welcome in the workplace. Often these stereotypes are about reinforcing what forms of masculinity or femininity are seen as acceptable, and impacts all people, not just those who are LGBT.

Gender stereotypes reinforce prejudice towards anyone who behaves or expresses themselves outside of what’s considered ‘normal’. An example of this is using expressions like ‘man up’ or ‘don’t be such a girl’.

The idea of difference about lesbian, gay or bi individuals in workplace often focus on how they don’t fit traditional gender norms or gender roles in society. For example, to be a ‘real’ man you are masculine and strong, and to be a ‘real’ woman you are feminine and emotional.

Using stereotypes like these both prevent people from being themselves in the workplace and send the message that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is unwelcome or abnormal.

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Our mission is simple…

Morson is committed to ensuring all of its candidates are encouraged to be themselves at work, driving performance, engagement and innovation. You have the power to be a positive influence in your working environment. When people feel like they can be open with those around them they perform better and can stop wasting energy hiding who they are.

Gareth Morris, HSQE director discusses the internal reaction to our latest diversity campaign:

“The internal reaction within the business has been one of interest. It’s become evident that we could certainly use this initiative in other sectors. At Morson we’re all working together, for that we need to have a common culture and common behaviours and the Rainbow Laces initiatives goes a long way to achieving that in regard to our diversity initiatives.”

The laces are just one element of a wider commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion by Morson. Sam discusses Morson’s plans to expand the scheme and the next steps:

“We are planning to expand the roll out from the London Underground across other major rail infrastructureVOL projects and we would like to implement the initiative beyond rail and look at the wider engineering industries such as construction”

“We currently advertise our roles on Stonewall’s jobsite, Proud Employers, which is the only jobsite which caters exclusively for LGBT people and their allies. This allows us to reach out to a diverse pool of talent, finding candidates that can truly be themselves and reach their full potential. Stay tuned for more exciting projects with Stonewall in the new year!”

Find out more about our Rainbow Laces campaign and read about our wider diversity and inclusion initiative here.