MI5, Baker McKenzie and Citi crowned as some of Britain's best LGBT-inclusive employers


Businesses around the world are gradually waking up to the importance of inclusivity in today's workforce. While there's still a long way to go until equality is reached across all fronts — many companies are actively implementing initiatives to bring about positive change.

Pinsent Masons is a clear example, having been crowned as the U.K.'s top LGBT-inclusive employer in Stonewall's annual LGBT-inclusive employer list, which called the international law firm a "shining example" for how it ensures that "staff feel empowered and supported."

"Pinsent Masons is leading the way championing lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality in the workplace. They know that helping staff feel that they can bring their full selves to work doesn't just make a huge difference to individual team members – it makes real business sense too," Darren Towers, executive director at Stonewall, said in a statement released Monday.

Another law firm, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner was ranked second, followed by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The LGBT rights charity Stonewall compiled a list of the top 100 employers that embrace LGBT inclusion, after accumulating over 92,000 anonymous responses from U.K. employees on their experience in the workplace. The answers were gathered from submissions to Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index.

Other names in the top 10 came from various industries, including prominent names like MI5, Citi, Lloyds Banking Group and Baker McKenzie.

Higher education organizations meantime excelled in the top 100, with 18 institutions placing in 2019's rankings, with many featuring in the top trans-inclusive employers list, such as universities in Cardiff, Swansea and Sheffield.

While Stonewall's ranking demonstrates that positive change is in play, more work is needed.

In 2018, 58 percent of young LGBT+ participants in a Vodafone-commissioned survey admitted that they hadn't been open at work about their gender identity or sexual orientation in their first job, as they feared discrimination. Stonewall's own research in 2018, revealed that nearly one-in-five LGBT employees surveyed had been subjected to negative comments or conduct from other colleagues in the past year.

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When it comes to promoting a more LGBT-inclusive environment, Stonewall says that employers should understand that "no workplace is the same, so diversity and inclusion cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach."

"Employers need to listen to the needs of their lesbian, gay, bi and trans employees and collaboratively address the challenges they face. This means creating a safe space for LGBT employees to come together and discuss those challenges, then empower them and LGBT allies to bring positive change," Towers told CNBC Make It via email last week.

The executive director added that to be LGBT-inclusive, employers can start with everyday actions, ranging from supporting LGBT calendar events and hosting LGBT networking events, to getting staff to use the right language.

"People perform better when they can be themselves, so workplace inclusion isn't just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense," Towers added.

"We all have a responsibility to make our colleagues, customers, clients or service users feel welcome, safe and respected."

The UK's top 10 LGBT-inclusive employers:

1. Pinsent Masons
2. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
3. Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
4. MI5
5. National Assembly for Wales (joint 5th place)
= Newcastle City Council (joint 5th place)
7. Lloyds Banking Group
8. Welsh Government
9. Citi
10. Baker McKenzie

Leading Trans-inclusive employers in the UK: (Unranked)

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
  • Cardiff University
  • Citi
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • National Assembly for Wales
  • Newcastle City Council
  • Pinsent Masons
  • Skills Development Scotland
  • St Mungo's
  • Swansea University
  • The University of Sheffield
  • Victim Support
  • Welsh Government

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