LGBT History Month
We went into LGBT history month this year with a sense of optimism and pride. In April 2018 we had launched our first public Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, our staff survey showed high levels of staff engagement and trust in our inclusive practices and we had an active LGBT Workers Forum that was supporting local Pride Events and becoming increasingly influential internally.
In January 2019 it was also announced that we had been recognised by Stonewall as an inclusive employer entering their Top 100 employers list. It was great to have this recognition but also to have the opportunity to work closely with Stonewall – to identify areas where we need to develop further to continue to grow a dynamic, inclusive organisation that people are proud to work for.
In the weeks leading up to LGBT History month, we also bought 700 Rainbow Lanyards for staff to wear with their identification badges on. A seemingly random number given representing about a fifth of the workforce.
It’s safe to say that we hadn’t really anticipated the level of demand for and excitement that these lanyards would generate. We decided not to ‘launch’ them – but just distributed numbers of the lanyards around the organisation and people just started wearing them. The whole Executive Team chose to wear them initially – as an implicit but public statement of intent and belief that an inclusive organisation is a stronger organisation. That these lanyards existed spread like wildfire around the organisation and spread through an attraction. We’ve ordered hundreds more and it’s safe to say that there is almost no office, service base or project that you would walk into now and not see our staff bedecked in rainbow colours.
Of course, wearing badges or lanyards is not enough – there is still work to do. Trans people continue to experience the most horrific abuse and discrimination, amplified through social media in ways that at times question their right to ‘self-identify’ – in ways that would simply be unacceptable for other groups. Under-reporting of data amongst our workforce around gender and sexuality is still much higher than we would like it to be and we are encouraging much wider reporting to help us plan improvements.
We hope though that it some ways the wearing of the rainbow lanyards helps to create, promote and celebrate a culture of openness, inclusivity, compassion and support.