Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
Cab company Addison Lee doesn’t exactly have a great reputation. A couple of years ago, they made the news when one of their drivers kicked out a gay couple for holding hands; they lost a government contract after telling their drivers to use bus lanes; and there was a suggestion in their staff magazine, Add Lib, that accidents on the road involving bikes are the fault of ‘untrained, inexperienced cyclists’.
But they’re trying to salvage their reputation. For Pride in London, they wrapped one of their cabs with rainbow colours; and they’ve even introduced a training programme for their drivers, trying to get them to recognise the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion.
— SoSoGay News (@SoSoGay_News) June 30, 2015
Liam Grimes is one of the driver trainers at the company. He explained to So So Gay that they’re aware they have a bad reputation, but that they want to improve it. But simply sacking the bad drivers isn’t the answer – after all, they’ll simply go to another cab company and continue their bad behaviour there.
‘We’re trying to stamp it out,’ he said. ‘We realise that there’s a specific issue with LGBT prejudice, and so we want to work on that, offering one-to-one coaching, rather than have them leave.’
If a passenger feels like a driver discriminated against them, they should first contact the call centre, where the call will immediately be escalated to a team manager. ‘Even if a complaint comes through in the small hours of the morning, we can give it immediate attention,’ Grimes added. ‘Client services will contact the passenger, and get their version of events.’
The driver is made ‘inactive’ – they are sent home and a formal investigation begun, for which they will be interviewed. The training department will also contact them, offering the opportunity to come in for extra training – with an incentive of points towards their car hire. The trainers can assess their body language as well as what they say, so that they can get a good idea of whether the driver is intentionally being difficult, or simply doesn’t know their behaviour was unacceptable.
The in-house driver training includes equality training, with participants shown the hard hitting Love has no Labels video, showing that we are all the same, regardless of race, religion or sexuality.
So far, 900 of their 3,500 drivers have passed their diploma, with mystery shoppers checking up on them, and even a couple of motorcycle riders who will shadow the cab until the passenger has been dropped off, then offer what Grimes describes as a ‘polite chat’.
Addison Lee has even become a member of the Stonewall ‘Diversity Champions’ scheme, giving them access to best practice sharing, networking opportunities and research from a wide range of organisations.
With the training department keen to stress how hard they’re working to get their drivers to be aware of equality, what’s your experience with Addison Lee? Have you had bad behaviour from them? Please let us know by tweeting @SoSoGay or in the comments below.
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