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Stonewall's top employers revealed

stonewalllogo2Equal rights charity Stonewall has unveiled its 2011 Workplace Equality Index, which this year finds the Home Office in pole position at the top of the list. It’s the first time that a central government department has topped the Index, which has been published annually over the last six years.

The list was launched to celebrate and acknowledge LGB-friendly employers. Although it is now illegal to discriminate against staff because of their sexuality, an increasing number of employers, in recognising the benefits of having a diverse workforce, are making extra effort to make their work environments gay friendly – whether it be through the setting up of LGB network groups or actively promoting their gay-friendly credentials when recruiting staff. The Index was set up in 2005 to recognise these employers, although at first, not all were convinced of the benefits of appearing on it.

“When the first list was published six participating employers requested anonymity, rather than be named as a top employer,” says Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill. “Such concerns had disappeared by the following year when all top 100 employers were named and now over 350 employers submit entries every year.”

The Index is based on a range of key indicators which this year included the largest ever confidential survey of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees, with over 9,000 participants.

In tandem with the Index, Stonewall also runs its own Diversity Champions programme – a “good practice forum” in which employers can work with Stonewall, and each other on sexual orientation issues. The  Diversity Champions programme has now grown to over 600 members, all major employers in Britain keen to improve their work on sexual orientation issues in the workplace. All of those on the Workplace Equality Index have also signed up to the Diversity Champions Programme.

Other organisations that have done well on this year’s list include Baker & MacKenzie, which take the honour of ‘Most Improved Employer’, and Barclays for having the ‘Network Group of the Year’. Lloyds Banking, which came second to the Home Office on the list, is recognised for being the top Private Sector employer.

In commending the Home Office for its employment credentials, Stonewall praised the organisation for the fact that it “understands the importance of truly embedding equality and diversity into everything it does.”

It also praised the way in which it had promoted its LGBT network group, Spectrum, to all staff across the UK, and applauded campaigns such as 'Here Come the Girls', which address the lack of visible gay and bisexual women in workplaces.

In addition, the Home Office was commended for accepting Stonewall's recommendations in new training for asylum caseworkers on how to deal appropriately and sensitively with the claims of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Commenting on the recognition, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said:

“I am delighted the Home Office is being celebrated as an employer which supports the diversity of its staff. This Government will

continue to do all it can to tackle discrimination and help make this country a more tolerant and fair place for everybody.”

The sentiment was echoed by Helen Ghosh, the Home Office Permanent Secretary, who said: “It is essential that the Home Office represents and understands the communities we serve. With all the challenges that face us, we have to make sure we retain talented staff and help them perform to their full potential. That is why I am so pleased that this department has won this significant award.”


The Workplace Equality Index Top Ten

1 – Home Office

2 – Lloyds Banking Group

3 – Ernst & Young

4 – Hampshire Constabulary

5 – IBM

6 – Goldman Sachs

7 – East Sussex County Council

8 – Brighton & Hove City Council

9 – HM Revenue & Customs

10 – Barclays

More details on the Workplace Equality Index can be found at www.stonewall.org.uk/wei

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