Article 25 May 2023

June is Pride month…

So, we caught up with our very own Sharon Wiley-French, Waste and Environment Manager and Deputy Chair of our Proud to Be Network, to talk about what Pride Month means to her and how she feels about inclusivity here at Mitie.

Sharon joined Mitie as part of the Interserve acquisition two and half years ago. She is married to Esther and together they have two children Lawrence and Grace

Hey Sharon, so, tell us what Pride month means to you and how you’ll be celebrating?

Whilst we don’t always attend Pride events anymore, it’s really important to me to recognise and celebrate Pride month.

It’s still illegal to be gay in 64 countries around the world. Last year, according to the Home Office hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in the UK and Wales rose by 26%. We’ve come a long way, but until LGBTQ+ people everywhere have the same rights and privileges as everyone else, it’s important we continue to stand together to raise awareness and push for change.

We agree Sharon, and at Mitie, we’re proud to have an active Proud to Be Network supporting our LGBTQ+ community, tell us why you were keen to get involved?

Early on in my career with Mitie, I had a bad experience when someone made a derogatory comment about my sexuality. I found it hugely embarrassing and demeaning, especially because it was said in front of others. I spoke to my manager about it, and he was incredibly supportive. I decided not to take it any further, but my manager made it clear to me that he was on my side whatever I chose to do.  The whole experience made me realise, stuff like this still goes on in the workplace and often it’s under the guise of banter. People don’t always realise how offensive they can be or how they can make others feel.  So, I wanted to champion people’s rights to show up as themselves at work and empower them to stand up against discriminatory behaviour in all its forms.

That’s so inspiring to hear Sharon, tell us what’s been your biggest win since joining the Proud to Be Network, here at Mitie?

I’ve seen a lot of positive change since I have joined the network. And working alongside Sim Sian our Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Nick Carter our network Chair our membership has increased significantly. I’ve built some excellent relationships with people from across the whole Mitie business and I have even run a coffee morning on the importance of respecting and recognising people’s chosen pronouns for our Mitie colleagues and our clients. More colleagues than ever before tell us their pronouns on their email signatures and I would encourage everybody in the business to do the same. It will really help our colleagues feel safe and supported at work.

And what do you think your biggest challenge is as a Network?

It’s really important that our senior leaders get involved and have open conversations with their teams. You don’t have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community to support us. Jason Towse, MD for Mitie Business Services and our networks exec sponsor for example is a straight man, but he’s a passionate and outspoken ally and a great example of how our leadership team can support us to achieve our goals.

And finally, if a colleague was thinking about joining the Proud to Be Network but wasn’t sure it was for them, what would you say to them to inspire them to get involved?

Firstly, our disclosure rate at Mitie has improved significantly but we’re still not where we need to be. So, for us as a network there is lots of work to do to help our community feel safe enough to show up as themselves at work. We’ve got lots of exciting plans for the future and anyone interested in joining us should get involved. Your voice matters and we’d especially love to see more of our front line colleagues signing up to help us understand more about their experience. We’re a friendly, passionate bunch and there will be a warm welcome waiting for you.

Jason Towse, Managing Director, Business Services and Executive Sponsor of our Proud to be Network said.

“At Mitie we believe that everyone, independent of sexual orientation and gender identity, deserves the right to feel safe and supported in the workplace. Our Proud to be Network, isn’t just about arbitrary representation, it’s about working together to make sure our colleagues have this experience, every working day. Pride month is an excellent opportunity for us to come together and recognise and celebrate our LGBTQ+ colleagues. We have an exciting line up of events including a podcast that I will be participating in, alongside other allies, like myself, and business leaders from the LGBTQ+ community.  The podcast will be broadcast on Mitie channels at the end of June. Whatever your role within Mitie, I’d encourage you all to support the network and attend these events.”

Join us on

Pronouns coffee morning on 6 June 9am – 10am

Hosted by Nick Carter, Commercial Director and our Proud to Be Network Chair and Helen Millard, Learning and Development Advisor – to learn more about the importance of using pronouns in the workplace.

Click here to join the call

Celebrating Pride Live at the Shard and online 21 June 10am – 11.30am

Hear from our expert panel and external speakers including: Victoria McKenzie-Gould, Corporate Affairs Director and Inclusion and Diversity Sponsor from Marks and Spencer

Click here to register

If you’d like to join our Proud to Be Network you can sign up here

Don’t forget to like and share and tell us about what you’re doing to celebrate Pride in the comments below:


#proudtobenetwork #pride #lgbtq+