Leaders in Northern Ireland gather for workplace inclusion event
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Leaders in Northern Ireland gather for workplace inclusion event

  • Leading LGBT charities host event in Stormont to promote LGBT inclusion at work

  • Role models from Northern Ireland Civil Service and Herbert Smith Freehills speak about importance of leadership

  • Stonewall and The Rainbow Project now support nearly 30 organisations on workplace inclusion

Today, Tuesday 5 November, Stonewall and The Rainbow Project held an event for some of Northern Ireland’s leading employers.

A diverse range of directors, chief executives, and other senior leaders from businesses across Northern Ireland came together in Stormont to discuss how to create workplace environments that are inclusive of all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.

After a network session, David Sterling from the Northern Ireland Civil Service gave an opening keynote speech. The delegates then heard from a panel of LGBT staff from organisations including Danske Bank, Herbert Smith Freehills, the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The panel spoke about the importance of having senior leaders in companies who visibly champion LGBT inclusion and provided examples of steps leaders can take to encourage meaningful culture change in the workplace.

The event was part of a calendar of events in the Diversity Champions programme, which has been running for the past two years in Northern Ireland as a partnership between Stonewall and The Rainbow Project. Since its launch, the programme now supports almost 30 organisations.  

Among the organisations present for the event were representatives from Pinsent Masons, who were named Stonewall’s top LGBT-inclusive employer in 2019. The international law firm won acclaim for supporting the campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland, along with supporting school partners to create inclusive learning environments.

Fergal McFerran, Client Account Manager for Northern Ireland at Stonewall said: ‘We spend most of our adult lives at work, so it’s vital that it is a place where everyone is able to be themselves. If any organisation wants to create a truly inclusive work environment, it needs committed and active senior champions who are willing to speak up on equality issues.

‘We’re delighted to be working with a growing number of employers in Northern Ireland through the Diversity Champions programme to help increase the pace of change for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in the workforce.’

Head of the NI Civil Service (NICS) David Sterling, who delivered the opening keynote at today’s event, said: 'The NICS is committed to being a diverse and truly inclusive employer where everyone can bring their true selves to work. Visible and ongoing senior commitment is hugely important in creating a workplace culture where LGBT people are supported, feel valued and are able to contribute fully to the organisation.'