‘Our doors are open’ is one of the founding values that we live by at Enterprise. We strive to create an environment where everyone is included no matter your gender, sexuality, race or disability. Jon Thomson tells us about how he has been welcomed with open arms wherever is career with Enterprise has taken him.
What is your role at Enterprise?
I’m the London and South-East England Group Vehicle Acquisition Manager.
I competed in dance competitions from the age of 10!
Why do you enjoy working for Enterprise?
Enterprise has a culture all its own, I feel it has allowed me to be myself and grow and mature with the company. Now that it’s nearing 20 years I guess I grew up here!
How does Enterprise support LGBT+ employees and allies?
We have an open and inclusive culture for our employees and a diverse work force in general which means that there is an atmosphere of inclusivity for LGBT+ employees. We have an internal network called Enterpride and run events regularly especially through pride season during the summer – which is super fun! I am also available as a mentor for new up and coming LGBT+ employees!
Tell us a little bit about your career with Enterprise. How did you start and how did you get to where you are now?
Well in the year 2000 I started my career at the Romford branch in Essex. It was good times… we worked hard and played hard! It was when I was working as an Assistant Manager in central London when the opportunity arose to move into Vehicle Acquisition. I jumped at the chance and have never looked back. I gradually worked my way up through the ranks until I became the department head in U1. Since then the business has grown massively and during this time many new brands and business lines have been added to our fleet, such as Exotics, Car Club and Airports.
Did you feel you needed to come out to your colleagues? How did they react?
Well… this is an interesting story! Before I applied to Enterprise I had made a TV appearance on a show called Flat Mates. My episode was about winning a place to live rent free in a shared apartment in the gay village in Manchester. This show aired in my first week at Enterprise and in the all-male team of 8 at my branch I was welcomed with open arms. They were actually quite protective over me which whilst unexpected was a welcome and positive experience. At first I was a little more guarded with senior management until I joined the team in the South-East – and all changed.
What has been your experience with being out and being a person of Faith? Have you ever had a particularly bad or good experience?
Well the best thing about feeling a part of another community and being accepted was when my partner and I decided to get married. The reverend at our church in Piccadilly was extremely supportive and even came to our wedding reception to conduct a special ceremony to bless our union. This was particularly special as she knew us well and identified as gay herself. She helped us write our own vows which made the experience an extremely moving one.
What is the one thing that Enterprise does that ensures we work in a diverse and inclusive workplace? They are always promoting a diverse and inclusive culture. From the recruitment process, to the communication within the organisation, to our leadership, diversity and inclusion is a consistently important initiative meaning that it has just become a part of our culture.
How important is it to provide a diverse and inclusive workplace? For business / colleagues / recruitment? It’s absolutely vital – without this we cannot hope or aspire to represent the communities we serve. It’s these values that define us and make us who we are.
Who are the LGBT allies that you look up to in the business? How have they helped you?
Well, I have certainly looked up to Ashley Hever, who is the first LGBT+ officer/director level in the company. He is very approachable and has always acted in a very honest and transparent way. He has also begun to support my career aspirations and acted as an unofficial mentor. Even small pieces of advice can be all the encouragement needed to make the right steps forward.
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