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The UK’s Most LGBTQ+ Inclusive Employers – What Practical Steps Do They Take?

Pride Month – What Practical Steps do the Most LGBTQ+ Inclusive Companies Take?
10 June 2021
 

This Pride Month, we are looking at what practical tips businesses can learn from the best-performing organisations from the UK Workplace Equality Index.

The UK Workplace Equality Index is the definitive benchmarking tool for employers to measure their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion in the workplace.

Participating employers demonstrate their work in ten areas of employment policy and practice. Staff from across the organisation also complete an anonymous survey about their experiences of diversity and inclusion at work. Organisations then receive their scores, enabling them to understand what’s going well and where they need to focus their efforts, as well as see how they’ve performed in comparison with their sector and region.

Sanjay Sood-Smith, Stonewall’s Executive Director, explained: “We spend most of our lives at work, so getting workplace inclusion right makes a huge difference in the lives of so many LGBT people. Every year, our list of the Top 100 employers shows us who’s leading the way when it comes to creating a work environment where LGBT people can thrive and be themselves in the UK. 

Here are some examples from the 2020 Index, detailing best practice and ideas that could be adapted to your workplace:

 

Newcastle City Council – Mandatory Training for Recruiters

 

Employer of the Year 2020, Newcastle City Council, have worked to ensure that their practices are LGBT inclusive for all staff, at all stages of their employment. They’ve done particularly great work on recruitment, hosting an event for IDAHoBiT that gave the opportunity for the community to connect with LGBT-inclusive employers. At the event, their LGBT staff group co-chairs and Director of HR were present to talk to LGBT attendants about working for Newcastle City Council.

They’ve also utilised LGBT community events, such as Pride, to reach out to LGBT talent and encourage them to apply for roles within the council. Finally, they have a thorough, mandatory training programme for managers with recruitment responsibilities. This features sections on LGBT recruitment, to help management understand the barriers faced by LGBT jobseekers, and how to practice inclusive and fair recruitment.

 

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Picture: a photograph of Newcastle's Civic Centre. Image Credit: Newcastle City Council

The council was the first-ever local authority to receive the prestigious accolade from Stonewall. Cllr Joyce McCarty, Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “I’m incredibly proud that our commitment to inclusivity has been recognised with this accolade, and it is a fantastic achievement for us to be first local authority to be named as Stonewall’s Employer of the Year. 

“But this is really an award for everybody in our city who shows every day that we are all equal and that our great city accepts everyone. Newcastle is a safe and welcoming city and the North East, in general, does a great deal to champion the LGBT community." 

 

 

“We spend most of our lives at work, so getting workplace inclusion right makes a huge difference in the lives of so many LGBT people."

–Sanjay Sood-Smith

Executive Director, Stonewall

 

 

Allen & Overy – Championing Allies

 

Allen & Overy have been very successful in encouraging employees to step up as allies, with more than 700 registered allies globally. Allies can visibly show support for their LGBT colleagues by signing the ‘Allies Walls’ in the London and Belfast offices, as well as by using the rainbow mug and lanyard provided to them by the firm.

Allen & Overy provide written guidance and training available for all staff on the role of an ally, including specific trans allies training that covers relevant terminology, what transphobia looks like, and what we can do to step up as trans allies. While this training was delivered in the London and Belfast offices, it was also made available in video format to reach many more employees globally.

Members of the firm’s LGBT+ network, A&Out, have written and published two guidance notes titled “The T in LGBT+” and “The B in LGBT+” so allies can better understand how to support their bi and trans colleagues.

Allies also help organise events to raise awareness of LGBT+ inclusion, including a session titled “LGBT+ Families: How to talk to our kids at any age”, and a talk by former Rugby international Gareth Thomas on mental health within the LGBT+ community.

Partner Jim Ford, Chair of the A&Out network, commented: “The success of the network is down to the hard work of people internally and our approach of close collaboration between the global diversity team, senior leaders and in-country LGBT organisations. We are focused on making sure that we balance our global messages with local nuance, to encourage as much engagement with the network as possible."

 

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Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service – LGBT+ Inclusion in Procurement

 

“A diverse workforce makes us better able to understand the needs of our increasingly diverse communities. For that reason, our focus this year has been on promoting the importance of LGBT inclusion in the way we provide our services."

–Mark Cashin

Chief Fire Officer, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

 

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service was ranked the third most inclusive employer in Britain in 2020.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service work closely with their suppliers to monitor LGBT inclusion in their procurement practice. They scrutinise diversity and equality policies and training for all potential contractors, and work with existing contractors to help them meet their standards of inclusion. They recently carried out a supplier diversity audit to assess whether their suppliers meet their equality, diversity and inclusion standards.

The audit included looking at the policies, training, and equality monitoring processes suppliers had in place. Based on the outcomes of this audit, they contacted several suppliers to offer support and best practice suggestions. They also encourage their suppliers to get involved in their community outreach initiatives – for example, their suppliers participated in local Prides with the service in support of their "Smoke doesn’t discriminate" campaign.

 

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Picture: a photograph of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service celebrating their placement on The UK Workplace Equality Index. Image Credit: Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

 

Chief Fire Officer Mark Cashin said: “Over the past 10 years, we have worked hard to create a workplace where LGBT colleagues feel safe and able to reach their full potential. As a result, we are attracting more LGBT people into the service than ever before and our latest staff survey showed that LGBT colleagues are among the happiest and most engaged in the organisation.

“A diverse workforce makes us better able to understand the needs of our increasingly diverse communities. For that reason, our focus this year has been on promoting the importance of LGBT inclusion in the way we provide our services.

Picture: a photograph of a person holding a miniature pride flag, with a blue sky in the background

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 10 June 2021

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