Stonewall starts its search for Britain’s best employer for gays

There’s just a week to go until the deadline for British employers to register for Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index – we find out more

Stonewall starts its search for Britain’s best employer for gays
07 September 2012

British employers who want their diversity work recognized will be working round the clock over the next week.

That’s because 14 September is the deadline their submissions to the only index which counts when it comes to ranking the UK’s top employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff.

Run by gay campaign organization Stonewall, the Workplace Equality Index (WEI) ranks the top 100 employers against each other each year.

There’s fierce competition for the top spot but even those who don’t make it to the final 100 get a score to show them where they are and help them improve.

It’s become a model for similar schemes beyond Britain too.

Once 400 of the UK’s leading firms have submitted their application, it will take Stonewall the rest of the year to sort through them, check and decide on the final rank.

We ask Alex Van Vliet in Stonewall’s workplace team to tell us more.

At the moment employers are completing their applications for the WEI, what does this involve?

To make a submission to the index, employers fill out a 25-question survey asking what they’re doing to make their workplace the best it can be for lesbian, gay and bisexual employees.

The survey covers a comprehensive range of initiatives for promoting better workplaces – from employee policy to training, career development to community engagement. Stonewall developed these criteria during 10 years of working with Britain’s most progressive employers in our Diversity Champions program.

This application is accompanied by an anonymous survey of participants’ lesbian, gay and bisexual staff – this gives us the full and honest picture both of what the employer is doing to tackle discrimination and how gay employees feel about their workplace.

What kind of evidence do they have to provide to back up their claims?

Employers have to submit supporting evidence of all the claims they make in their submission – copies of policies, training materials or internal communications.

The application and supporting evidence is then evaluated by Stonewall. To guarantee rigor, every employer is assessed twice – first by Stonewall’s workplace team, and second by our policy experts. To ensure full scrutiny of the submission, a range of employers are selected at random for a face-to-face consultation with an external consultant.

To what extent do you also judge employers based on Stonewall’s interaction with them during the year, or is it just based on the formal information handed in during the application and checking process?

The index is free for any employer to enter, so those who aren’t already working with Stonewall as part of our Diversity Champions program have an equal chance of getting into our top 100 employers list.

Each index submission is assessed solely on the application document, supporting evidence and staff feedback, but we offer members of our good practice forum additional feedback and support throughout the year to help them get the most from their index performance.

Where do employers struggle– what are they weak in?

Many of the employers who enter the index have great policies in place, but often don’t know if they’re working in practice – it isn’t always easy to know if your gay employees are receiving equal treatment in practice.

The index challenges employers to show how they are proactively tackling barriers to career development for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff, or working with managers to make sure they’re leading inclusively and setting the right tone.

Are there any tips you can share on how to score well?

Be ambitious – each year our top employers range from small charities to investment banks. Regardless of what sector you’re working in, any employer who can bring their energy, enthusiasm and dedication to improving workplaces for their gay employees will be able to succeed.

What have companies done in the past to give you a ‘wow’ factor? What would you’d love to see this year?

The ‘wow’ factor can often be from an employer who pays attention to the details – recognizing that lesbians and bisexual men and women might have different experiences of exclusion, or using training in an innovative way.

In the past few years, I’ve been impressed by the number of employers who are working with their suppliers to improve the way that they approach diversity, or reaching out to the wider gay community to support voluntary groups and LGB young people.

Every year we showcase best practice from organizations in our Top 100 Employers report – it’s fantastic to be able to showcase the work that major employers are doing to achieve equality for their lesbian, gay and bisexual staff.

This year – the sky is the limit! I hope we’ll be able to see some employers who going the extra mile to recognize and support same-sex parents in the workplace, or the parents and carers of gay teens.

What happens after the application stage? How does the rest of the process work?

We’re expecting almost 400 submissions this year, and Stonewall’s team spends two months reviewing and marking employer’s applications. When marking is finished, we produce a report showcasing trends and good practice from our Top 100 Employers which will be launched in January 2013.

We’ve had over 13,000 responses to the staff survey so far – we’re hoping that eventually this will reach 15,000 so that our assessments can truly reflect the experiences of the lesbian, gay and bisexual employees of participating organizations.

Read the full 2012 WEI list, topped by professional services firm Ernst & Young, here.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Columnist George Will says 'opposition to gay marriage is dying'

Washington Post columnist George Will describes a harsh demographic reality in the battles for marriage rights
No thumbnail available

Pastor Rick Warren can't imagine a time when he'll support gay marriage

Pastor Rick Warren goes on Piers Morgan Live to talk about faith, sexuality, and how marriage is getting redefined
No thumbnail available

Katie Hopkins faces off with lesbian columnist - that was a mistake

Jack Monroe managed to take the controversial Sun columnist down
No thumbnail available

Louganis documentary filmmakers looking for donations

Documentary filmmakers looking for financing to complete project about  Olympic champion Greg Louganis
No thumbnail available

Gareth Thomas comes third in Celebrity Big Brother final

Gay rugby star loses competition to TV presenter Denise Welch
No thumbnail available

Call for Labor to join Greens in pledging to protect ACT gay marriage bid

Advocates for same-sex marriage have called for the Australian Labor Party to block attempts by the new Australian Government to stop the Australian Capital Territory from legislating for same-sex marriage alongside the Greens party
No thumbnail available

Kylie releases her gay scene video today

The pop princess is back in hotpants for her new single, Timebomb, and dancing in the streets of London's Soho
No thumbnail available

Turkey progress report slammed - no progress for gay rights

Turkish activists claim: Turkey's own progress report to the European Union ignores repeated critique of the country's failure to protect LGBT people 
No thumbnail available

Texas school relents, lets trans teen wear a dress to prom

After a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union reminded the school a trans female teen has a right to express herself, the Texas school changed their mind
No thumbnail available

Gay business summit to debate energy crisis

LGBTI business audience and top UK energy leaders to discuss fracking, fuel prices, global oil politics and the environmental impact