Jemma Kameen, the store manager at Sainsbury’s Leeds Headingley, has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to the city’s Pride event at The Annual Leeds LGBT Awards ceremony.
As the co-chair of Proud@Sainsbury’s, the retailer’s inclusive LGBTA colleague network, Jemma has led Sainsbury’s involvement in Leeds Pride for the last two years.
Jemma found out that she’d been nominated for the Leeds Pride Ally of the Year award in January and was presented with the accolade at the event - also known as the ‘Owlies’ - which took place last Tuesday (21 February). The awards ceremony celebrates and congratulates individuals and groups that have made outstanding contributions to the Leeds LGBT community.
Liaqat Ali, Director of Leeds Pride, said: “Having worked with Jemma for the last 2 years, she stands out as one of the most dedicated people I have worked with over my 10 years as director of Leeds Pride.
“It’s always a pleasure to speak to her, as she has amazing ideas and the balloon launch last year to remember the Orlando victims was one of them. She works all year around promoting pride and I really look forward to working with her again this year and many years to come.”
Through her hard work and dedication, Jemma managed to recruit 400 volunteers from Sainsbury’s stores across Yorkshire to help organise and take part in Leeds Pride in 2016 – engaging a diverse range of colleagues from all areas of the business. She also arranged t-shirts for all of the colleagues as well as goodie-bags which were handed out to people at the event.
She also arranged a special ceremony to honour the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting where 49 people were killed. Colleagues released 49 bouquets of biodegradable balloons in memory of each of the victims.
Speaking about her experience as Proud@Sainsbury’s co-chair, Jemma said: “Last year’s Pride event was one of the highlights for me – parading through the city centre with our decorated wagon and online delivery van, playing music for all of our colleagues to dance to”.
“Sainsbury’s had the biggest group in attendance and we literally painted Leeds orange as we paraded through the streets with whistles and hula necklaces, celebrating with the crowds of people who lined the streets.
“I’m thrilled to have picked up the award last week and so proud to work for a company who is truly making a difference to our LGBT colleagues”
As part of the awards ceremony, Jemma presented Leeds Pride with a cheque for £5,500 alongside Alan Ormrod – Sainsbury’s Regional Operations Manager for West Yorkshire. The funds were generated through the retailer’s Local Heroes scheme which awards charities and community groups with £5 for every hour a colleague spends volunteering.
This isn’t the first time Jemma has been recognised for her achievements. In 2015, Sainsbury’s picked up the Leeds Pride Partner of the Year award after Jemma led the annual parade with 180 of her colleagues. She was also been nominated for the Financial Times Outstanding Young LGBT Leader in 2015 and for the Community Yorkshire Woman OF Achievement Awards last year.
Proud@Sainsbury’s was formed in 2014. It brings together LGBT colleagues and “allies” – people who may not identify as LGBT but who believe that LGBT people should be free to be themselves and to reach their full potential. The network is run by colleagues who are passionate about Diversity and Inclusion. There are two appointed network co-chairs and sixteen panel members. The group act as role models and give recommendations about how to create a more inclusive workplace.
Hannah Munro, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Sainsbury’s, added: “We’re committed to supporting and celebrating our LGBT colleagues and our aim is to create an environment where every individual feels comfortable sharing who they are with their colleagues allowing them to bring their ‘whole self’ into work.