Tom Crocker, Business Director at Aramark Northern Europe, answers some questions about his experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community as he takes on the role of Hub Leader for the Northern European Hub of Aramark Pride Employee Resource Group.
Tell us about yourself
I‘m part of the UK sales team, and it’s my job to take all the amazing things our teams do and then present them creatively to potential new clients. I’ve been with Aramark for just over three and a half years, but started my hospitality career in restaurants, and from there moved into various sales and operations roles at event venues and catering companies. I’m a passionate foodie and currently spend my spare time renovating my first home and dreaming of owning a dog.
What do you love about Aramark?
Without doubt it has to be the variety and the people. In my role, no two days are the same and I get to work with a huge cross section of our teams. My first impression when joining Aramark was just how invested our people are in delivering the difference for our clients. Working in sales means that I’m put in front of all sorts of clients, and every day I’m learning new ways in which to present both myself and Aramark effectively – a challenge I’ve come to love!
What has been your experience as a member of the LQBTQ+ community – both personally and whilst working within the food service industry?
I’ve been an out and proud gay man since I started university and my experience within the LGBTQ+ community has certainly evolved over time. In my early career days, I used to fret quite a bit about how I was being perceived by my peers, and if my voice was being heard. What I’ve learnt over time is that the majority of those worries were to do with my own internal acceptance. When companies talk about their LGBTQ+ initiatives you’ll hear the term ‘bring your whole selves to work’ a lot, and that really resonates with me. In my career I’ve been my most content, and my most successful, when I’m 100% me, and not holding back a part of my personality or creative thinking. I think most of my peers would agree that I’m a fairly passionate person, and in part I attribute that to being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
The hospitality industry is an extremely varied and diverse sector, and there are times when I come across ways of working or processes that I deem outdated. Where before I may have shied from those situations, I now see it as an opportunity to creatively innovate and show new ways of thinking. Also, it’s that diversity that is the life blood of our industry. Having varying personalities, passions and identities in our business is what makes it thrive.
A few years back I found myself wanting to immerse myself more into our community and came across the London Gay Men’s Chorus (LGMC). The chorus was set up in 1991 with just 9 members, and now boasts a team of 230 fabulous singers. LGMC entertains, educates, and inspires through song, and I’ve loved getting to know so many people with differing, colourful and impactful stories – not to mention getting to put on amazing shows!
For me, being a gay man isn’t my story. But being a member of such a vibrant community, one that openly tells me to be my best self, is a huge part of who I’ve become.
Why are Employee Resource Groups important, and in particular the PRIDE ERG?
Simply put, Employee Resource Groups give a voice to the diverse communities that make up our workforce and create a more inclusive workplace - when you feel supported and inspired by your employer, you turn your creativity into innovation and delivering exceptional experiences. We have many Employee Resource Groups in Aramark, and collectively they work together to advance diversity, equity and inclusion not only within our own teams, but in the communities we serve.
In my opinion, ERGs are about connectivity. I can’t think of anything better than opening up new ways of thinking and letting more voices be heard. And Aramark PRIDE is no different. We foster an open, inclusive environment to support our LGBTQ+ employees and allies to fully achieve their goals in personal and professional growth. Taking my own experiences to heart, what could be better than enriching our teams with people who feel comfortable to be their whole, fabulous selves.
But one thing I’m certainly focusing on is adding a flare of FUN. Our working lives can be extremely stressful, and we want to build a community that engages – not only about work, but about all the amazing things that make us who we are. So, with that in mind, an exciting agenda of fun, creative events is certainly on the cards too!
What are you excited for in the year ahead?
We’ve built an incredible committee for our Northern Europe hub of Aramark PRIDE, and we already have some brilliant plans in the works. We’ll be working on building our network of advocates and allies through a variety of events, and we plan to compliment these with education initiatives and community outreach programmes.
Professionally, I’m really excited to continue the great success our sales team have had this year. We’ve got some incredible new clients joining the Aramark family, and hopes for plenty more! Our new and existing clients also have their own amazing LGBTQ+ communities and initiatives which I’m hoping we’ll be able to join forces with.
Personally, I have my eye on (and my fingers crossed for) a trip to Mykonos, as soon as rules allow. But until then, you’ll find me either with a paintbrush in my hand or scrolling dog breeders trying to find a Cavapoo to call my own!