Awareness-raising

Leicestershire County Council

The best organisations realise that they need to engage with all staff – both LGB and non-LGB – on sexual orientation equality issues. This often involves having a programme in place to ensure that initiatives on LGB equality reach all members of staff, helping to create a workplace where everyone feels able to discuss sexual orientation issues with confidence and where staff are able to be themselves.

Leicestershire County Council’s LGBT Workers Group held its first annual conference, ‘Out for the Count’ in February 2011, which was targeted at all staff, whatever their sexual orientation. The event was advertised on all-staff intranet pages rather than just the network group’s page, and featured in all staff communication bulletins. As a result, 38 per cent of the delegates identified themselves as ‘straight’.

The conference was structured with non-gay delegates in mind and included a series of sessions to raise their awareness of the issues facing LGB colleagues. Key questions from the day included ‘How important do you think it is for LGB colleagues to be open about their sexual orientation at work?’ and ‘As a straight person, what do you think the main barrier to coming out at work is for your LGB colleagues?’

Feedback from the non-gay delegates was extremely positive. Gay employees have also reported positive changes in the workplace following the event. Managers were encouraged to circulate the conference materials among their teams as an additional form of awareness-raising. This example of best practice demonstrates the impact that awareness-raising can have on workplace culture and the importance of engaging with all staff, regardless of sexual orientation.