June is normally the month when LGBTQ+ people and allies march in various Pride events across the country. While the London Pride March did not take place last year for obvious reasons, the good news is that it is happening this year on Saturday 11 September. Pride in London will no doubt strive once again to reflect the wide diversity of London’s LGBTQ+ community and draw thousands of participants and supporters.
Equalities issues are – rightly – front and centre at the moment. The rainbow image is one that has gained huge additional meaning, as the pandemic drew enormous support for our key workers who have done incredible work keeping us all safe and looked after. That rainbow image has always been one of hope, of inclusivity and campaigning – and we should celebrate its use and its meaning.
LGBTQ+ people simply want the same as (almost) everyone else: the right to live life in a society which recognises and accepts difference, but also cherishes that difference as fundamental to a decent community, where rights are respected and the law delivers fair outcomes for all, based on merit and where everyone can feel they have a part to play.
Within Lambeth Council, our work focusing on LGBTQ+ issues has never been more important. As part of the Patrick Vernon Review into workforce equality, the council agreed to a set of key recommendations to improve the environment for all while at work.
The council’s goal is to create a workplace where people can feel secure, safe and confident to include equalities information, on confidential systems such as Oracle. This matters because if the council does not know how many staff identify as LGBTQ+, we cannot consult and engage with the right people to drive change. Since the council began adopting a new approach to equalities, diversity and inclusion, based on collaboration and meaningful dialogue, the numbers of people who have felt able to positively share their status has increased, which is great news. But we need more colleagues to do so. This is a personal decision, but we want to make it an easier one to make.
Lambeth are proud to be a Stonewall Diversity Champion and will be preparing our submission to their Workplace Equality Index (WEI) 2022, a nationally recognised accreditation of LGBTQ+ inclusive employers from the public and private sectors. Since our last submission, a tremendous amount of work has taken place to refresh our key HR policies and develop our EDI training offer for all staff as well as develop a range of EDI metrics that will better evidence that the council is delivering the changes our staff want to address discrimination and ensure all staff are valued and supported to be the best they can.
We know that lesbian and bi staff still don’t always feel that they can be themselves at work and we are looking at how to address this. We also recognise that we need to do more to ensure we are a trans and non-binary inclusive employer. We have developed a Transitioning at Work Policy and will be looking to ensure that all our key HR Policies take account of trans and non-binary staff.
Working with our fantastic LGBTQ+ Staff Forum, led by the equally wonderful Chris D’Souza and colleagues from across the organisation, we’ll be working hard alongside the new EDI Board, chaired by Andrew Travers, to deliver the changes needed. Cllr. Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities is a strong ally and is championing the cause across the borough.
We hope this article paints a picture that is positive. A lot that is good is happening, but there is a lot more yet to do. Let’s all join together to celebrate Pride month this year. Whatever way you mark it, we hope you have a good one!
Fiona Connolly, Executive Director Adult Social Care and Paul Bates, Director Strategy and Communications, Senior Sponsors of the LGBTQ+ Staff Forum
As many colleagues will be aware June is Pride month. LGBT communities across the world join Pride marches and events celebrating our history, achievements and ongoing struggles against discrimination. There are still too many countries where consensual same-sex relationships are criminal and where LGBTQ+ people face harassment, violence and even murder. We also recently marked one year since the appalling murder of George Floyd, a reminder of the racism that still exists, and as a forum we stand united with our Black brothers and sisters.
The forum has been working with the council to ensure the council is an LGBT+ inclusive workplace and that the services we deliver take account of the diverse needs of our LGBTQ+ community. Our submission to Stonewall’s WEI 2022 will be an opportunity to see how far we have come and where we need to do more.
The Forum is hoping to take part in the Pride March in September alongside Lambeth Links – a new LGBTQ+ Community forum set up to ensure that the views of local LGBTQ+ residents and those that work and visit the borough are heard.
Christopher D’Souza, LGBTQ+ Staff Forum chair
For more information
See the Pride in London website