Birmingham City Council has been recognised as one of the best employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, having leapt 32 places to reach number 59 in the country according to Stonewall, the leading LGBT charity.
Colourful lanyards (cords for ID passes) and an electronic newsletter formed a key part of a campaign to establish a network of ‘allies’ and have helped ensure national recognition by Stonewall in their workplace equality index for 2015.
The increased visibility for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) employees and their ‘allies’ at Birmingham City Council have increased confidence in the council’s commitment to equality and diversity and are a very public way of showing support across the organisation.
Former Chair of the council’s LGBT group Marie Dobinson hit on the idea of establishing an Allies Network after seeing the success of other organisations at the Stonewall Workplace Conference 2012.
Marie worked on a number of ways to encourage the idea of Allies Network across the council and the LGBT Allies programme was launched by the council’s strategic director for People, Peter Hay, in October 2013.
Part of the campaign was to find simple ways for people to show their solidarity with LGBT staff. Alongside the more usual newsletters, events and meetings, the rainbow lanyards for council passes have been a runaway success.
Marie and vice chair Dave Board stood down in 2014 and assumed Network mentoring roles to encourage other members to come forward to help coordinate and act as voices for the new LGBT Allies Network.
Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for Social Cohesion, Equalities and Community Safety, Cllr James McKay, said: “LGBT people can often feel invisible. Marie spotted a simple idea, pursued it and brought it to Birmingham.
“The rainbow lanyard for council ID passes, and the wider campaign of course, has made a huge difference to how staff feel.
“Worn by both LGBT employees and anyone who wants to demonstrate their support for an inclusive workplace, the lanyard has helped people to feel less isolated and has served as a constant reminder to staff to embrace equality.
“We are very proud of the improvements we have made but will be aiming higher next year.”
The LGBT Allies Network is open to staff, citizens and partners. LGBT Allies sign up here
For the top 100 employers as ranked in Stonewall’s workplace equality index for 2015 see Workplace equality index
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