Newcastle City Council has been named the most inclusive employer in the U.K. by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) charity Stonewall in its 2020 rankings.
The city council in the north east of England was the first local authority to come top of Stonewall's annual list since it launched the rankings 16 years ago.
Stonewall said LGBT inclusion was embedded across all areas of Newcastle City Council's work but found that it was particularly strong in its recruitment process.
For instance, it hosted an event for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, where people could talk to its LGBT staff group co-chairs and its HR director about what it was like to work at the council.
It also ran a "7 days of Pride" campaign in the run up to the Newcastle Pride celebration, as part of efforts to engage with the local LGBT community and encourage people to apply for roles at the council.
Newcastle has been chosen as the host city for the national 2020 U.K. Pride celebrations.
Sanjay Sood-Smith, Stonewall's executive director, said Newcastle City Council was "paving the way for others" in putting LGBT inclusion and equality at the heart of its workplace.
"When staff feel comfortable, happy and understood, they will perform much better than if they're having to hide who they are, or if they're scared to go to work for fear of abuse," he said.
Stonewall saw 503 companies in the U.K. apply to get a spot on its 2020 Workplace Equality Index.
It surveyed the staff of the companies that applied and collected more than 109,000 anonymous responses on employees' experiences of workplace culture and diversity, to compile the top 100.
Stonewall said it was encouraging to see that more than four out of five LGBT employees who responded to the survey said they felt they were able to be themselves in the workplace.
Housing association Gentoo Group came in second place, followed by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
International law firm Pinsent Masons came fourth but was crowned Britain's most inclusive employer in 2019 and was also included on Stonewall's separate list of the U.K.'s best trans employers of 2020.
Stonewall highlighted its strong performance at collecting data on job applicants and staff, and analyzing this information to identify areas needing improvement on inclusion.
The government department, the Ministry of Justice, rounded out the top five.
Broadcaster Channel 4 entered the rankings for the first time this year.
For the second year in a row, educational organizations were the most heavily featured of any sector on the list, with Cardiff University, in Wales, in 10th place, while publisher Pearson appeared on the list for the first time at number 80.