How we created an LGBT-inclusive workplace

Read Mark Henderson’s piece for Inside Housing that appeared yesterday on how Home Group achieved such a fantastic ranking on Stonewall’s Top 100 Employer Index.

Given that Stonewall’s Top 100 Employer Index is in its 15th year, it should come as no surprise the level you now have to reach in order to stand a chance of featuring. It’s fantastic, therefore, to see that Home Group has made it to 17th place, and that we are the number one ranked housing association.

Since becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion a few years ago, the commitment from colleagues across the whole organisation to ensure LGBT+ colleagues and customers can be safe, accepted, respected and celebrated has been phenomenal.

I want to thank them all publicly for their amazing commitment and effort. To be effective in this area it needs everyone to get involved and fully support what we aim to achieve. That has absolutely been the case this year.

A special thank you must go to our brilliant Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group who have driven this agenda hard from day one.

It takes such passion and commitment from colleagues to elevate an organisation to the heights we have reached. What was apparent to me and others was the team driving our work were not focussed on the Index per se, but were being driven by an unfailing desire to ensure inclusion, equality and acceptance.

Their work over the years has been outstanding. But last year, they took it to another level.

The team has established powerful and impactful support networks for LGBT+ colleagues, and set up an allies network which has gone from strength to strength. Pride at Home (LGBT+ network) and Partners in Pride (allies network) numbers have rocketed, with 88 Pride at Home members and over 600 Partners in Pride members.

We’ve made a good start on our work with trans inclusion – developing a transitioning in the workplace process in consultation with trans colleagues and ensuring our policies and processes are trans inclusive.

Our ‘role models’ and ‘Lifeswap’ programmes are encouraging people to share their stories and to support others to be more knowledgeable about the challenges that LGBT+ people face in the workplace.

This year has seen a strong focus on education and awareness raising.

Our annual equality, diversity and inclusion conference was widely attended by colleagues from across the organisation, including a strong presence from our Executive team.

In fact the Executive team have been a significant factor in our prominence on the Index this year.

All of the Executive team and most of the senior management team are members of Partners in Pride. The Executive team have attended ‘lunch and learn’ events, local Prides, taken part in and promoted LGBT+ campaigns such as Stonewall’s Coming out for LGBT pledge and rainbow laces. They’ve taken part in our reverse mentoring programme; promoted and attended LGBT+ events and taken a very active role in our LGBT+ virtual conference which reached over 2000 colleagues across the organisation

Home Board were also keen to be involved, and among other things  posted a photo of their support after a discussion on LGBT+ inclusion at their board meeting which they posted across their wide reaching Twitter feeds.

I am very proud indeed in what we have all achieved to date. To be placed 17th on an index that 445 other organisations entered is testament to the outstanding commitment, drive and effort that has been put in by colleagues across Home Group.

Our challenge now is to build on this exemplary work and take it to another level again.

Mark Henderson, Chief Executive, Home Group


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