To celebrate Pride month (June) 2022, IEMA is speaking with members who are LGBTQIA+, to find out what they are doing in the sector and to hear their thoughts on LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the environment and sustainability profession. In this interview IEMA's Tom Pashby speaks with Josie Cadwallader-Hughes PIEMA, Sustainability Director at Thakeham.

If you identify as LGBTQIA+, are a member of IEMA, and would like to be featured during Pride month, please contact IEMA’s digital journalist Tom Pashby at [email protected].

Josie Cadwallader-Hughes PIEMA, Sustainability Director at Thakeham

Who are you? What’s your role in the environment and sustainability sector?

I’m Josie Cadwallader-Hughes, Sustainability Director at Thakeham. My role includes leading the strategic direction as well as engaging with policy and organisations to further the progress within Thakeham and the wider housebuilding industry.

How do you describe your LGBTQIA+ identity?

I tend not to describe it - I recently got married to a wonderful woman, which usually explains itself!

What does your organisation do?

Thakeham are community creators with a focus on zero carbon infrastructure-led placemaking. Whether building NHBC (National House Building Council) five star status private homes for sale, delivering large scale partnership projects, or building our land portfolio, all that we do focuses on community, family and wellbeing. Thakeham creates sustainable, zero carbon, modern self-sustaining communities that enhance quality of life, built on the principles of NHS Healthy New Towns. Our schemes are thoughtfully designed and considered to create vibrant, resilient and sustainable places to live and work, with the health and wellbeing of communities at their heart.

What are your thoughts on Pride?

I think Pride offers reason for telling stories that celebrate progress, and that also shouldn’t shy away from highlighting critical barriers people face in freely being their true selves. Some people disagree with the corporate sponsorship of major pride events, but coming from a company where partnership is a core part of sustainability, I see huge potential for accountability and change within the relationships with sponsors that keep the values of the event at the centre.

Do you feel like the environment and sustainability profession is inclusive for LGBTQIA+ individuals?

I believe that this industry is inclusive in a way that other industries can learn from. The housebuilding industry has been slow to adapt to change in some areas, but companies who are passionate about people are making a huge difference. Thakeham were recently confirmed as the best construction and engineering company to work for in the UK, at the beginning of this year. 2022 marks our third year running being recognised in the ‘Best Companies’ competition, but this year is the first for us to win within our sector – and to list within the large company category. It’s no surprise that I felt comfortable being myself at Thakeham, able to share information about my life and relationship with colleagues knowing I was in a safe space.

What do you think the environment and sustainability sector could do to improve equality, representation and inclusivity for LGBTQIA+ professionals?

Having the confidence to talk freely shouldn’t just be a marker of how thick someone’s skin is, or how tough their mental armour. It should be a marker of the security that their network (whether employer, membership body, or industry body) has provided them with. That feeling of security is the opposite of the instinct that tells you to change the conversation topic after someone talks openly about their relationship, and it should be provided by each and every network. Training for everybody to enable relaxed conversation to happen without fear of saying the wrong thing – even just knowing that your line managers have been on the training provides some security. Making sure company policies and procedures address potential discrimination issues can make a huge difference to new recruits feeing able to join the business.

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the contributing individual, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.


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