Eight emergency services organisations have made the Top 100 LGBT-inclusive employers list, compiled by lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity Stonewall, with one new entry.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have climbed the rankings for a third successive year, moving to the third position overall (4 in 2018; 8 in 2017), leading the way for another strong performance by the North West of England. Cheshire Constabulary appear at 18 in this year’s list, followed by Lancashire Constabulary at 36.
Over the past year, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have hosted LGBT role model events, worked with local LGBT community groups to improve their service delivery and all uniformed members of the Service Management Team have epaulettes, indicating their rank markings, that bear the rainbow emblem.
Mark Cashin, Chief Fire Officer, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘Securing third place in Stonewall’s Top 100 is fantastic news, and I’m delighted that Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service features in the Top 10 for the third consecutive year. Personally, I’m pleased to be part of an organisation where our people really embody the values of LGBT inclusion. It’s also not just about reaching high rankings; we are passionate about LGBT inclusion for good reason.
‘As an emergency service working hard to safeguard the public, ensuring we are LGBT-inclusive is extremely important; we need to make sure that our services are fully accessible to LGBT communities, and that LGBT people choose to work or volunteer with us. Working with Stonewall provides us with the confidence that our approach is working, particularly as we reach out to keep the most vulnerable people in our community safe and well. We are proud to be LGBT-inclusive.’
Sunita Gamblin, Deputy Chief Constable, Lancashire Constabulary, said: ‘Policing is incredibly rewarding and it is a privilege to work in such a public service.
Consequently, our staff, officers and volunteers recognise that they have a huge impact on others, and can achieve an indelible positive impact on people’s lives. It is absolutely vital that a modern police force should be leading the way in terms of having an inclusive mindset, so valuing and seeking out different perspectives is an absolute priority. This is how we really see growth and success, ultimately reflecting the diverse communities we serve.
‘Being 74th on the list was a great achievement last year, but the fact that we have jumped to 36th place this year demonstrates how serious we are about improving and it is testament to the hard work, which is ongoing every day to maintain high standards of inclusivity within our workforce.’
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service were the only new entry from the sector this year, landing at 99.
Wayne Bowcock, Deputy Fire Chief and Strategic Lead on Equality and LGBT Issues, said: ‘The service is proud of its Top 100 ranking and to receive special recognition for its work to progress LGBT equality. The Service has worked hard for several years and has to use increasingly innovative ways to continue to increase awareness and understanding of LGBT issues, maintain an inclusive environment and engage with LGBT staff and communities. It is vitally important that our staff can be their best selves when they come to work and we are committed to developing an environment to enable this. Being representative of the communities we serve makes us more diverse, increases our skills and helps us be as accessible to our communities as possible.’
This year also saw strong performances from North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, who rank at 58 (46 in 2018), while Sussex Police move to 81 (47 in 2018).
Yvonne Ormston, North East Ambulance Service chief executive, said: ‘It’s important that people are able to be themselves in the workplace and that we maintain an environment where people feel safe, supported and included. There is strong evidence to suggest that having happy staff leads to improved outcomes for patients.
‘We’re extremely proud of the work we have done to make sure our service considers the needs of LGBT people and we will continue to work with local communities and the National Ambulance LGBT Network to identify further improvements. Retaining our place in the Stonewall Top 100 index as the top performing ambulance organisation in the UK serves to recognise this work.’
Rounding out the emergency services on this year’s Top 100 are Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Services (84) and Northumbria Police (88).
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon, Northumbria Police Force’s lead for equality, said: ‘I am incredibly proud that we have been named in Stonewall’s list of Top 100 employers for the second year in a row. It is an excellent example of our continued commitment to supporting LGBT+ officers and staff to ensure they have a voice and have the very best support networks in place.
‘The LGBT+ Support Association plays a key role in not only supporting employees but also engaging with the communities we serve. It is also important to recognise that many members of the association don’t necessarily identify under the LGBT+ umbrella. However, as allies, are keen to support their colleagues and ensure personally that they are in the best possible position to engage with members of the public who identify as LGBT+.
‘It also highlights the exceptional work we are doing with LGBT+ communities in our region to make sure they have confidence in us as a police force. We are fully committed to ensuring this continues and that we have a workforce which truly reflects the diverse communities we serve.’
This year’s Top 100 was the most competitive ever with 445 employers vying for a coveted spot.
Last year, Stonewall released researchhttps://www.stonewall.org.uk/lgbt-britain-work-report that showed more than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) have hidden they are LGBT at work and almost one in five LGBT employees (18 per cent) have been the target of negative comments from colleagues because of their identity.
Darren Towers, Stonewall’s Executive Director said: ‘All these emergency services organisations who have made this year’s Top 100 Employers list are making a huge difference to workplaces, services and communities across the UK. LGBT-inclusive employers play a crucial role in changing society by using their power and influence to protect and support LGBT people. With so many organisations displaying such a strong commitment to LGBT equality, we are one step closer to creating a world where all lesbian, gay, bi and trans employees are welcomed and accepted without exception.’