Speaker John Bercow: I’m thrilled the Commons has been recognised as top LGBT employer

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House of Commons Speaker John Bercow writes for PinkNews as the Commons is named for the first time as one of the UK’s top 100 employers for LGBT people via Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

Ask any forward-thinking employer, and they’ll tell you that people perform better when they can be themselves. Providing a working environment where people feel comfortable, happy, and accepted – without exception – is not only a savvy business move, but simply the right thing to do.

That’s why I’m so proud of this year’s Stonewall top 100 employers ranking, which sees the House of Commons placed 28th overall – jumping 88 spots compared with last year’s edition.

Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers is the definitive list showcasing the best employers for lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff. It is compiled from submissions to the Workplace Equality Index, a powerful benchmarking tool used by employers to create inclusive workplaces.

Now in its thirteenth year, the list celebrates the pioneering efforts of leading organisations to create inclusive workplaces.

The Workplace Equality Index is free to enter for any employer.

Each entrant compiles a submission demonstrating their organisation’s performance against a set of best practice criteria, including employee policy, training and all-staff engagement.

Entrants must supply supporting evidence where necessary to prove that this work is underway.
To supplement evidence submitted by employers, Stonewall also seeks feedback directly from the entrants’ staff.

The feedback is sent direct to Stonewall and is anonymous. This year Stonewall received over 90,000 responses to the staff survey, making it one of the largest national employment surveys in Britain.

A total of 430 employers submitted entries to the 2017 index, from across the public, private and third sectors.

Although we are proud of the progress we have made over the past twelve months, the foundations for this success have been laid over a number of years.

We have been working to develop a more inclusive approach to the way we do things here at the House of Commons, but given the quality of the Index as a benchmarking tool, a collective decision was taken by my office, the Executive Committee, Board, our Diversity & Inclusion team and ParliOUT (the Workplace Equality Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Questioning people in Parliament) to focus more on our overall position.

How did we go about it? Well, it wasn’t simply taking a more cohesive, proactive approach to gathering evidence – although that certainly played a part.

Our teams across the House all contributed: from the Learning & Development team ensuring that issues faced by LGBT people are considered in our mandatory Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training, to raising awareness of our LGBT Role Models, following the Parliamentary Role Models campaign.

We have also incorporated equality, diversity and inclusion throughout our procurement process, something that will continue to develop in the coming years.

There were also a number of symbolic steps taken, that were nevertheless vitally important to setting the tone across the organisation. For London Pride 2016, UK Parliament had a red double decker bus for the first time.

More than 75 members of staff participated on the day. We also raised the rainbow flag over Portcullis House.

This marked the first time that the rainbow colours had been officially flown anywhere on the parliamentary estate.

We did this in order to reinforce our key message: that we are an inclusive employer, which is proud of our LGBTIQ staff.

On a day-to-day basis, ParliOUT have done much of the heavy lifting in terms of providing events, information, and that vital support to staff across the House, both in person and across social media.

Their sterling efforts have made this achievement anything but a top-down initiative – this is something the whole House has contributed to, and that is something of which I am exceptionally proud.

Receiving a coveted place in the Stonewall top 100 sends a strong message about who we are as an organisation.

Our aim as a diverse employer is to recruit, retain and promote the best people and to be representative of the society we serve.

The Stonewall WEI is an important acknowledgement of our commitment to both our staff and the public. But the work continues – and rest assured, we are relishing the task.

Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP is Speaker of the House of Commons