Diversity under scrutiny

The Corporate Equality Index, created by Stonewall, a group campaigning for the rights of gays, lesbians and bisexuals, identifies the UK’s top 100 employers for employing lesbian, gay and bisexual staff.

Scores were awarded on eight categories, including policy, benefits, staff involvement, recruitment and diversity practice.

With regard to the latter, 1,630 employers were asked whether they carried out compulsory training on sexual diversity. Here we ask employers from the index for their approach to training staff in handling matters concerning sexual diversity.

Fiona Bartels-Ellis
Head of equal opportunities and diversity, British Council
Equality index ranking: 1

We have very firmly mainstreamed this issue, getting across the message that this has to be part and parcel of everything – not simply a human resource dimension, but part of the core business. We have a series of mandatory one-day workshops run by senior people in the organisation. That’s a very important part of reflecting that we take this agenda seriously.

The training covers three areas – the legal strand, the business strand and the moral strand. The training is just the beginning, as participants go away knowing they have diversity and development plan objectives to work towards.

Equal opportunities and diversity are written into our behavioural competence dictionary, and we also map our equality opportunities and diversity initiatives on the organisation performance scorecard.

Teresa Williams
Equality and diversity adviser, Barnardo’s
Equality index ranking: 20

One of Barnardo’s core standards for staff in our children’s services dep-artment – 75 per cent of the workforce – is that all employees take part in an equality and diversity event every year, either receiving formal training or a briefing session.

In addition, we have a new training initiative that supports the display of posters indicating that our workplaces are a ‘safezone for lesbian and gay people’. During the training, staff focus on their own feelings towards homophobia, and how that impacts their working practice. They then identify how they can make their service a safe place for lesbian and gay people.

The training also emphasises Barnardo’s commitment to equality and diversity, which in turn has grown from our approach to helping children and young people.

Giving equal respect to everyone we work with is an expectation that is also reflected in our policy.

Giles Matsell
Equality and diversity manager, Nottingham Primary Care Trusts
Equality index ranking: 7

We have a mandatory one-day training programme that covers all strands of diversity, which all employees must attend. However, we also run specific lesbian, gay and bisexual awareness courses to look further into some of the issues surrounding sexuality and discrimination, called ‘Sexuality discrimination – is it infectious?’

This agenda has been driven by staff and supported by HR, rather than purely being an HR initiative. It came about because we had an approach from staff who wanted a lesbian gay and bisexual network to support them because they had experienced isolation and discrimination.

Valerie Todd
Director, equality and inclusion group, Transport for London
Equality index ranking: 31

Transport for London is empowering staff with the knowledge and skills to respond to equality and inclusion issues in the work environment and the every day provision of transport services.

Our business plan has a strong focus on tackling discrimination and exclusion, but there is still room for improvement.

We have developed close links with a range of gay and lesbian groups, such as Stonewall, as well as disability and faith groups. We regularly consult them for advice and feedback to ensure our plans reflect the needs of our employees and customers.

Pam Farmer
Equality and diversity manager, BT
Equality index ranking: 20

We give case studies of three or four lines to our staff to kick-start debate on incidents that can occur in the workplace and what they might do about them.

It is an exploration of the limits of acceptability – how things were in the past, how they are now and how they might be in the future.

Our online magazine programme also includes a soap opera that recently included a story line involving a gay marriage. It’s for individual viewing on our intranet, which puts the issue in front of people.

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