Opinion: We mustn’t renege on our commitment to diversity, says Oliver Entwistle

The civil service has been a front runner in treating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB & T) workers fairly. Same sex adoption and parenting leave is available, same sex partners are recognised in pensions, and there are LGB & T staff networks.


By Civil Service World

07 Mar 2012

However, this good progress on diversity is slowly being eroded. In the last year or two, a number of LGB & T networks have been closed or cut back. Diversity funding has been drastically reduced or cut completely in a number of departments, and departmental participation in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index has halved.

Some of these cuts, you may argue, are necessary as the government strives to meet its fiscal mandate. But some things don’t cost money, only cost goodwill – and I’ve also noticed a reduction in commitment to diversity across the piece, with an increasing resistance to civil servants’ participation in diversity activities. We need to stop this rowing back. Now is not the time to renege on our commitment to diversity.

I’m calling on all departments to reaffirm their commitment to diversity by fully implementing the findings of our report on career development for LGB & T people. Independent Yougov research has found, for example, that a third of transgender staff believe that their gender identity has impeded their careers; and that 19 per cent of all LGB civil servants have experienced discrimination at work. To tackle discrimination, we need to reinforce training on attitudes to LGB & T staff; to more visibly support LGB & T networks, including by recognising the work of network leaders in appraisals; and to target discrimination hotspots out in the regions and overseas.

We need leadership on diversity from top to bottom. We need action to address direct discrimination. And we need innovation by diversity teams across the civil service to ensure that we remain an LGB & T-friendly employer even in these difficult economic times. ?

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