Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has received a Gold award for its commitment to inclusivity, diversity and equality in the workplace.
The award is given to companies and public services that are able to show their outstanding support and efforts towards making workplaces more inclusive for everyone. This is the first time KFRS has received the Gold award, and it's been ranked at position 122 in the Top Employers list.
Stonewall is the UK's leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, working to create a world where everyone is free to be themselves. The awards and UK Workplace Equality Index serves as the definitive benchmarking tool, helping organisations measure their progress on LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace.
The charity's most recent campaign, 'Bring Yourself to Work', highlights the importance of everyone feeling able to bring your 'whole self' to work - following research that more than a third of LGBTQ+ staff (35 per cent) hide who they are at work, while one in five (18 per cent) have been the target of negative comments because they're LGBTQ+.
Ann Millington, Chief Executive of KFRS said: "Here at Kent Fire and Rescue Service we are committed to supporting LGBTQ+ communities in every way that we can, and we're pleased to play just a small role in the incredible work that Stonewall is carrying out. We would like to thank the charity for this wonderful accolade.
"We really are here for everyone, and hope that this Gold award can show just how far the service has come with celebrating diversity in the workplace and beyond. Despite this, we're always continually striving for better - it's just part of our DNA. In everything that we do, it's important to recognise that we can always do more, and so we will continue to improve in any way we can."
As part of its entry, KFRS demonstrated how it has changed the way in which staff relate to customers, alternations to HR and internal policies, and 'Everyone Together' - which is the service's approach to promoting inclusivity, diversity and equality, with a focus on valuing difference and being kind.
The fire service also offers ongoing support for LGBTQ+ events, has introduced regular annual equality talks and is flying the intersex progress flag at all stations during LGBT History month, and other significant events in Kent and Medway.
Recently, KFRS launched a 'Together Against Hate' campaign - which is now an integral part of how the service operates, with an intolerance towards discrimination and other hateful comments.
Liz Ward, Director of Programmes at Stonewall (she/her) said: "We spend so much of our time at work, and our career can be a huge part of how we define ourselves. Every single lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer person should be able to be themselves at work. From understanding how HR policies, such as parental leave, will affect them, to being reassured that they can speak openly about their lives and partners at the coffee machine, the impact of inclusive workplaces can be life-changing.
"It's fantastic that KFRS has gained a Gold award for their efforts and commitment to creating an inclusive work environment, and we look forward to seeing and supporting the rest of their inclusion journey."
For more information on the awards and the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusion, visit the official Stonewall website.