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Virgin Media O2 to fund employee gender transition

The telecom has announced its first diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) strategy since the Virgin Media and O2 officially merged in 2021

Virgin Media O2 has announced plans for a “comprehensive package of support” for transgender and non-binary employees that will include the company funding gender transition treatment, estimated to cost around £20,000.

The company already provides Bupa private healthcare for its staff, as well as access to Healthy Minds, a 24/7 psychological helpline.

The latest commitment is part of the telecom’s first joint diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) strategy since the two companies officially merged in 2021.

Known as All In, the DE&I strategy sets ​​four goals that are to be achieved by 2027. This includes equal gender representation in Virgin Media O2’s senior leadership team, out of which 15% need to constitute ethnic minority employees. According to recent findings from the Tech London Advocates network, three-quarters of London’s tech companies have almost no BIPOC representation on their senior leadership teams, with the lack of diversity potentially costing the UK tech sector its world-leading position.

Virgin Media O2’s DE&I strategy also aims to ensure that minority ethnic groups will make up a quarter of the company’s wider organisation, which in turn will also reflect “all gender identities and expressions” as part of “progress for gender parity”.

Commenting on the announcement, Virgin Media O2 chief people officer Philipp Wohland said that the All In strategy will see the creation of a “more inclusive and equitable company” for employees and customers alike. 

“Virgin Media O2’s purpose is to upgrade the UK; that’s not just through our leading products and services, it’s also by the type of company we want to be and the role we play in society,” he added.

To facilitate a more inclusive work environment, the telecom is also rolling out a two-hour employee training session led by Equity Sequence.

This is despite warnings from experts that anti-bias training, especially in such a brief session, is ineffective in increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“The idea that somebody can come into a company, spend two hours with an organisation, and change everybody's actions is just bizarre. It does not happen,” London School of Economics professor Dr Grace Lordan told attendees of the Tech for D&Iversity event on 31 March 2022.

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