By Meriel Box, Head of Staff Development, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)
In 2003, three gay staff (including me) had an ambition to establish an LGBT Equality Network to support our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff – to drive positive cultural change as part of our HR Rewarding and Developing Staff Strategy. Adopting the Stonewall mantra ‘People perform better when they can be themselves’ we wanted more colleagues to be themselves, to celebrate their diversity, reducing personal stress, challenge homophobic behaviour, and fulfil their potential; in essence to feel safe in a ‘gay friendly’ work environment and to be ‘out and proud’ role models for both current and potential LGBT students and staff. For LJMU, we wanted to be a destination of choice to study or work, where LGBT people would have an excellent student and staff experience.
This year we celebrated our network’s 10th Birthday, during LGBT History Month. From increasing understanding of sexual orientation equality amongst staff to improving our University’s external reputation, our network group is a vital instrument which supports our strategic business objectives. As Chair of the network I’m proud of our achievements attributed through the commitment, passion and ‘discretionary effort’ of many academic and professional services staff. Network members include straight staff, alumni as well as LGBT staff and students and external partners who we collaborate with on OD projects across sector organisations and the wider LGBT community.
Each and every member of our network is an equality and diversity champion contributing to our University’s OD profile, recognised by our Board of Governors, VC and Senior Management Team. This is endorsed by and strengthened through our partnership with Stonewall since 2006 when LJMU joined the Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme. As a University we annually submit to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index to evidence and benchmark our LGBT equality practice at an international level with a growing number of other public and private sector organisations. This year LJMU achieved 28th position in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list, full marks in the ‘Gay By Degree’ HE sector benchmarking exercise for specific services supporting LGBT students and we were awarded Network Group of the Year in the North West.
Stonewall as a key partner has enabled us to realise OD potential, recognising and valuing the difference LGBT people bring to our organisation. I encourage you to dosey doe your OD partner!
September 2013 LJMU hosts the North West launch of the Stonewall Workplace Guide: ‘Maintaining Network Group Momentum’
LJMU’s LGBT Equality Network webpage
Guidance on LGB workplace equality Stonewall