Home Office permanent secretary Mark Sedwill "very proud" as department named "star performer" by LGBT charity Stonewall

Home Office named "Star Performer" for treatment of LGBT staff – and will now offer advice to other organisations

By Civil Service World

21 Jan 2016

The Home Office has been recognised as one of the UK's leading employers of LGBT people by the equality charity Stonewall.

The department has ranked in the top ten of the charity's annual employers list three times in the past five years – and has now been awarded "Star Performer" status, meaning it has "repeatedly demonstrated" a "commitment to creating inclusive workplaces".

The Home Office won particular praise from the charity for acting quickly to improve LGBT experiences in the asylum system in the wake of a report by the borders watchdog, and working "to ensure quality of asylum interviews and reduce the number of LGBT customer complaints."

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John Muir, who works for the Home Office's Border Force and leads on transgender issues, stressed the importance of allowing staff to "feel able to be themselves at work".

He added: "We interact with millions of passengers coming in and leaving the country every single day and we have a responsibility to make sure our engagement with the public takes account of their needs. People travelling through our airports want to feel assured that your treatment will be sensitive to who you are and appropriate to who you are. We are a great department of state so we have a responsibility to set an example through our engagement with the public."

Responding to the report, Home Office permanent secretary Mark Sedwill said: "As the department responsible for ensuring that every citizen feels safe to be themselves, I am very proud that the Home Office has been recognised by Stonewall as one of the country’s best employers for people who identify as LGBT.

"I hope that talented people committed to public service from any background, sexual orientation, gender or ethnicity will consider the Home Office as a career."

According to the Home Office, around 3% of the department's staff self-declare as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Star Performers are not ranked by the charity, but the Home Office will now join private sector employers IBM, Barclays and EY and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in mentoring other organisations to improve their own practices.

This year's top 100 list was headed up by security service MI5, which climbed from 7th place last year. Its achievement, said Stonewall, "takes on even greater resonance when it is considered that until the early 90s there was a ban on LGB people holding the highest level of security clearance necessary to work there".

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