O2's Mark Leonard named as an OUTstanding LGBT+ future leader

By Jo Bertram, Managing Director, O2 Business and Executive Sponsor for Diversity & Inclusion

Today, I’m thrilled to say our very own Mark Leonard has been named as an LGBT+ Future Leader in the annual OUTstanding list.

The award, published today on Yahoo! Finance, recognises the top 50 individuals globally who have made a significant contribution to LGBT+ inclusion, and in Mark’s case, ‘significant’ is quite the understatement.

Since Mark became Chair of O2’s LGBT+ network – Proud at O2 – six years ago, the network has grown into a welcoming and outward-looking group. Now boasting more than 500 members, the network allows more than just a space for LGBT+ people to communicate. It’s an employee-led platform which lobbies effectively for changes that help make O2 a place where people feel they can bring their whole selves to work.

Under Mark’s leadership, Proud at O2 is making a material difference to the lives of O2’s LGBT+ employees. In May, O2 published its ‘transitioning toolkit’, produced in collaboration with Stonewall. The toolkit helps support employees who are going through, or considering, a gender transition journey, as well containing advice and guidance for their managers. It includes advice on issues such as confidentiality and the correct use of pronouns.

Proud at O2 also played an important role in ensuring that our updated Family Leave HR policy covers both heterosexual and same-sex couples, as well as partners welcoming a baby via adoption or surrogacy.  The amount of paid paternity leave we offer staff was extended from two to 14 weeks, allowing all new parents the support and flexibility to spend valuable time with their new families.

Mark’s success in galvanising employee support as Chair of Proud at O2 was plain to see when it came to Pride this year. We saw our biggest ever turnout at events across the summer in London, Leeds, Manchester, Brighton, Belfast and Glasgow, to name but a few. While it was an enormously important moment for us as a company to celebrate equality and inclusivity, the parades also served as a reminder of how much more we have to do as a society to continue the fight for LGBT+ rights.

And these are just a few of the changes brought about by Mark and members of the network. Thanks to their tireless work and vision, O2 is now an even more inclusive place for us all to work.

I’m always proud to see our people recognised for the great work that they do. Not only is Mark Leonard a true champion of inclusivity, but he’s a true asset to O2 and a fitting Future Leader celebrated in today’s OUTstanding list.