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The Corporation

Posted: 19/01/17

College is high-climber in national Top 100 Employers list

There are celebrations at West Nottinghamshire College after it was once again named as one of the country’s top workplaces for promoting lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) diversity.

Flying the rainbow flag to celebrate the college’s high-ranking in the Top 100 Employers list are (from left), Louise Knott; Alex Belcher, chair of student LGBT network ‘Connected’; and Jane Hawksford, chair of the staff LGBT network group.

The college has been placed 60th in equality charity Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers listing – the definitive national showcase of LGBT-friendly organisations.

It is amongst the highest-climbing organisations in the East Midlands – rising 33 places from its 93rd position last year when it broke into the top 100 for the first time, having come 143rd in 2015 – and one of only two colleges nationally to feature in the prestigious listing (ahead of Newham College of Further Education, which came 72nd).

The results were announced by the charity today (Thursday 19 January, 2017).

Now in its 13th year, the list celebrates the pioneering efforts of leading organisations to create inclusive workplaces. It is compiled from submissions to Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index – an annual audit of workplace culture for LGBT staff.

More than 430 employers submitted entries to the 2017 index across the public, private and third sectors, measuring their performance against a range of best practice indicators.

It also includes a confidential staff survey which asks whether employees are comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation at work, whether they see visible LGBT role models in the organisation, feel supported by their managers, and are confident in reporting homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

There were over 90,000 responses to the national staff survey, making it one of the largest in Britain, with 16,186 LGBT respondents. All of the Top 100 employers are members of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme – the country’s leading scheme for ensuring LGBT staff are accepted in the workplace.

Initiatives run by the college over the past 12 months have included:

  • Supporting Stonewall’s No Bystander’s campaign to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia by encouraging staff and students to challenge inappropriate language;
  • Delivering LGBT tutorials in class;
  • Visits by guest speakers to talk to staff about LGB and trans issues;
  • Awareness-raising events such as film screenings, poster campaigns and training during LGBT History Month and IDAHoBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia);
  • Ensuring its policies and procedures are LGBT inclusive;
  • Forming an innovative partnership with other Stonewall Diversity Champions and Top 100 employers in Nottinghamshire, which has included producing a booklet featuring inspirational case studies of LGBT role models within these organisations;
  • Media students have turned the booklet into a short film capturing the role models’ personal testimonies, which will be screened at the Broadway Cinema, Nottingham, as part of LGBT History Month in February, as well as used on the organisations’ websites and YouTube channels.

Louise Knott, vice-principal at West Nottinghamshire College and chair of its equality and diversity steering group, said: “We are absolutely delighted with this year’s Top 100 result. As a college, equality and diversity is deeply embedded within our culture and ethos. Over the last three years we have really focussed on LGBT+ equality and our result this year is a clear indication that all the hard work of colleagues right across our organisation has paid dividends.

“For many of our students, coming to college at the age of 16 serves as a bit of a watershed, where they feel they can start to be themselves. Many choose their transition to college to ‘come out’; therefore providing a safe and welcoming space for them to do this is essential. That is why we have invested a significant amount of time not only in terms of our support for students, but also in creating an environment where our staff feel comfortable being themselves and are role models to our student body.

“We have found that our clear focus on LGBT+ equality has moved our organisational culture on significantly and in fact has helped with many of our other equality and diversity strands. Our work will continue and we hope to move up the Top 100 ranking even further next year.”

Duncan Bradshaw, Stonewall’s director of membership programmes, said: “West Nottinghamshire College and all those who have made this year’s Top 100 Employers list have done a fantastic job, and really do put equality and inclusion at the forefront of their work. We were thrilled to have 439 submissions for this year’s Index, one of the most competitive yet, and I would like to thank each and every organisation that took part.

“With your continued efforts and hard work, we will continue to work towards a world where all lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff are welcomed and accepted without exception in their workplaces.”

Full results of the Top 100 Employers list can be found at http://www.stonewall.org.uk/get-involved/workplace/workplace-equality-index