HomeEmployee ExperienceDEI&BDiversity & Inclusion‘All In’ by 2027? Virgin Media O2’s five-year DE&I strategy one year on

‘All In’ by 2027? Virgin Media O2’s five-year DE&I strategy one year on

  • 5 Min Read

One year in to ‘All In’ by 2027, Virgin Media O2 has already been named as a Top 100 employer for equality. Nisha Marwaha, Director of People Relations, and DE&I, at Virgin Media O2, joins the HRD Live podcast to share the progress to date and what the next four years will hold.

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Although inclusion and diversity are now ongoing initiatives at nearly all major organizations, to varying degrees of success, many leading organizations have established clear five or ten-year benchmarks through a long-term DE&I strategy. Virgin Media O2, for example, has four core ambitions at the heart of its five-year ‘All In’ strategy that it aims to achieve by 2027:

  • Equal representation of women and men in the company’s wider leadership team
  • To have driven forward progress for gender parity, including all gender identities and expressions across the organization
  • 15% of Virgin Media O2’s wider leadership team will be from minoritized ethnic groups
  • 25% of Virgin Media O2’s wider organization will be from minoritized ethnic groups

Long-term DE&I strategies acknowledge that inclusive change is sustained. Organizations are unlikely to achieve meaningful progression overnight. But it is equally important to reflect on milestones and progress on a more frequent basis. So, how is Virgin Media O2 doing one year in?

We begin the HRD Live Podcast mini-series on DE&I in conversation with Nisha Marwaha, Director of People Relations, and DE&I, at Virgin Media O2, to find out.

Long-term DE&I strategy starts with redesigning family-focused policies

At the heart of ‘All In’, Virgin Media O2 is aiming to create a more equitable, and inclusive company. The markers stated above are bold but achievable ambitions. They represent the diverse communities it serves as a mass media company. Moreover, they create an environment that attracts and retains top talent.

But how is it achieving these goals in practice? Marwaha quickly points out Virgin Media O2’s focus on family-led policies that improve gender parity and inclusivity for minoritized groups.

“We’re now giving our employees 26 weeks paid maternity or adoption leave, and 14 weeks paid paternity leave. I’m also proud that we’re one of the first UK businesses to offer paid carers’ leave and paid neonatal leave. We’re offering people up to five days paid leave to support with any caring responsibilities, and up to 12 weeks neonatal leave.”

“We’re also giving them up to 10 days’ leave if people have tragically experienced pregnancy loss. So, it’s a package of support that we’re hoping demonstrates to our employees that we just really want to be there when it matters most to them.”

Marwaha is also eager to emphasize the importance of taking an inclusive view of what family means and moving away from traditional family norms. “Traditional definitions of the family can exclude a lot of family scenarios,” she explains. “We took a lot of guidance from our employee resource groups as well.” Virgin Media O2 employees can now decide if someone feels like family to them and apply the policy to their situation.

Tracking progress to date

To ensure it is working closely towards its DE&I strategy goals, but also to maintain an up-to-date and agile view of employee experience, Virgin Media O2 is measuring its progress in a variety of ways. Empirically, the uptake of the advanced leave policies detailed above is an essential indicator of how its actions resonate with employees. Moreover, measuring ENPS scores create a richer picture of whether employees would advocate for the organizations. “If they feel like that, they’re working for an employer that’s creating the right culture where they can be themselves,” explains Marwaha. Virgin Media O2’s Diversity and Inclusion team also conducts regular check-ins with ERGs that will quickly point out what isn’t working.

Lastly, as with any DE&I strategy, Virgin Media O2 cannot claim meaningful progress without external validation. “It’s the progress that can be measured by what third parties are saying, or the external market,” notes Marwaha. Indeed, Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index named Virgin Media as a top 100 employer.

Up next for Virgin Media O2’s five-year DE&I strategy?

Much of Virgin Media O2’s journey to ‘All In’ by 2027 lies ahead. Whilst progress has been positive, Marwaha acknowledges some areas where there Virgin Media O2 has work to do.

“We are now supporting departments on an individual basis, or divisional basis to look at what their goals are going to be. To understand what specific barriers might be in their areas to attracting and retaining talent.”

“We’ve just launched a range of workshops, which we’re calling Ally Up. It’s hitting some of the key points that we have distilled from feedback by our employees, especially about inclusion.”

There is a heavy focus on empowering employees to educate themselves and boosting the profile and visibility of employee resource groups. Moreover, it is seeking external partnerships that can help it drive change forward. Partners such as 2020 Change will help create structured programs that ensure a strong pipeline of minoritized talent. Marwaha concludes with a reflection on the journey ahead.

“Challenges will be different in different parts of the business. And it’s not always a one size fits all approach.

“It’s just about supporting on a local level, as well from the top-down, to make sure that we’re doing as much as we can.”


00:09 – Introduction

01:00 – Can you outline Virgin Media O2’s ‘All in Strategy’ and the ambitions you hope to achieve by 2027?

01:56 – What policies have you implemented to begin improving inclusion?

03:23 – Could you share how you’re taking a ‘family-focused’ approach to DE&I policies?

04:26 – Do you have any examples of how the policies are impacting your people?

06:11 – How are you using Tidal Equality’s ‘Equity Sequence’ to guide the policy-making process?

7:31 – What metrics or markers are you using to track the progress you are making to improve inclusion and equity?

08:57 – What have been the biggest learnings on the ‘All In’ journey so far?

10:31 – What more will you be doing in 2023 and beyond to hit achieve your ambitions by 2027?

12:14 – Why is it important to balance policies at the organizational and team levels?

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