Over one in four LGBT employees reported experiencing at least one form of employment discrimination (WilliamsInstitute). This is an ongoing challenge for managers to ensure that EDI principles are met, and to maintain their workforce morale. Saorsa-Amatheia Tweedale is the National Co-chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network in the Civil Service and they presented at our recent LGBTQ+ in the Workplace Conference. You can watch the full presentation above, alternatively, the summary is available below.

“Previously, I chaired the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff networks. Currently, I co-chair the cross-civil service LGBTQ+ network, representing departmental networks to government leaders. Today, I want to discuss how to establish and empower networks for queer employees effectively.

Creating Safe and Inclusive Spaces

The first step is to create a safe space where staff can openly discuss their gender identity and sexuality. We advocate for the “letting people in” model rather than the “coming out” model. This approach shifts the focus from staff stepping into the spotlight to inviting others into their safe space, which empowers individuals and places control in their hands.

The Role of Allies

Allies play a crucial role in this process. While exclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals are necessary, most events should welcome allies. This dual participation allows potential allies to engage without outing themselves and supports the creation of a safer, more inclusive environment.

Visible Allyship

Active allyship can be demonstrated through simple actions such as wearing a community lanyard or badge. Organizations can support this by providing these items, making a visible statement that the workplace is safe for LGBTQ+ colleagues. Celebrating community events and encouraging staff participation also helps demonstrate organisational commitment to inclusivity.

Inclusive Diversity LGBT Colours. Diversity And Inclusion. LGBT flag on desk.

Leadership and Network Support

Establishing a robust framework involves appointing a senior LGBTQ+ champion to regularly meet with network chairs. This ensures a two-way dialogue where both parties can discuss initiatives and support each other. Additionally, a steering group of senior leaders can help maintain consistent communication and support for LGBTQ+ initiatives.

Intersectionality and Network Structure

Embedding intersectionality within the network is vital. The network should have a committee with leads for various demographics within the LGBTQ+ community. These roles should be flexible and reflect the evolving needs of the community.

Refreshing and Sustaining Networks

Regularly refreshing the network committee and roles ensures the network stays dynamic and relevant. Encouraging collaboration between different staff networks can foster a more inclusive organisational culture.

Establishing and maintaining effective staff networks involves creating safe spaces, encouraging active allyship, and ensuring robust leadership support. By embedding intersectionality and regularly refreshing the network structure, organisations can empower their LGBTQ+ employees and foster a truly inclusive workplace.”

This was presented at our previous LGBTQ+ in the Workplace Conference. For the latest insights on equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, please see our latest event below.

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Over one in four LGBT employees reported experiencing at least one form of employment discrimination. Saorsa-Amatheia Tweedale joined our recent LGBTQ+ in the Workplace Conference.

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