The University of Birmingham has been ranked 79th overall in the definitive list of Britain's most gay-friendly workplaces.
Birmingham’s position in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers 2015 sees an impressive rise of 180 places from last year, reflecting the University’s ongoing commitment to creating an inclusive workplace. Within the education sector, the University of Birmingham is ranked 9th in the UK.
The Stonewall Top 100 Employers is compiled from submissions to Stonewall’s annual Workplace Equality Index. The Index assesses employers’ activities in a comprehensive survey of policy and practice; from promoting the visibility of senior lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) role models to guaranteeing access to benefits for same-sex partners and training employees on discrimination issues.
Employers submit written responses to the criteria set by Stonewall, accompanied by supporting evidence. In addition to evidence submitted by employers, Stonewall seeks feedback directly from the entrants’ LGB employees via a survey on workplace culture.
The University of Birmingham’s staff Rainbow Network was also Highly Commended in the Network Group of the Year award category in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2015. This accolade recognises the sterling efforts of the Rainbow Network in advancing representation of LGBT people within the University. Highly Commended status is only awarded to network groups that fulfil 75 per cent of the criteria pertaining to such groups.
The Rainbow Network’s aims are to provide a space for University of Birmingham staff who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer/questioning, along with friends of these communities, to meet and to develop an interesting and enjoyable programme of events and activities. The Network reports back to the University through the Diversity Forum.
The Rainbow Network is also an informal point of contact for LGBT issues that may arise in the workplace, such as bullying and harassment. The Network, acting in complete confidentiality, can signpost members to specific services available to them or towards colleagues within their own department who can help.
The staff group was also instrumental in the success of the University’s Advancing Equality in Employment initiative, which took place during the 2013-14 academic year. The project signalled a step change in the University’s approach to equality and diversity through a series of events, activities and objectives, acknowledging that there is a longer term programme required to achieve a more balanced workforce.
The Rainbow Network was launched by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Eastwood in 2010. Commenting on today’s results, he said: ‘As a global community of nearly 150 nationalities in one of the UK’s most vibrant cities, our diversity is a source of strength that reinforces the exchange of ideas, innovation and debate at the heart of our academic mission. I am delighted that Stonewall has formally recognised the University’s commitment to promoting equality, diversity and fairness for LGB members of staff and this is something that will remain crucial to our core values as we strive to remain an employer of choice.’
Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the University of Birmingham Diversity Forum, Professor Martin Stringer added: ‘This really is an amazing achievement and would not have been possible without a significant input from a dedicated team, especially the Rainbow Network and our Equality Advisor, Sheena Griffiths. Together, they clearly demonstrated to Stonewall in our application the sheer breadth of tremendous work taking place across campus to ensure we are promoting and supporting workplace equality in its wider sense.’
The University of Birmingham also observes Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans (LGBT) History Month, which takes place every year in February and celebrates the lives and achievements of the LGBT community. Acting as a focal point for LGBT History Month in the Birmingham and the West Midlands region, the University offers a range of performances, film nights, talks and events taking place across campus which are devised and hosted by both staff and students. All are welcome to attend these events and the University’s 2015 programme for LGBT History Month will be publicised shortly.
Unique among UK universities, the University of Birmingham offers its own Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Mentoring Scheme. Now in its third year, students are paired up with staff from organisations in Birmingham to discuss the challenges facing LGBT graduates entering the workplace with a focus on coming out in the workplace. Over half of the mentors are staff from the University itself.
Notes to Editors
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- Stonewall is a UK-based charity that works to achieve equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people. As Europe’s largest gay equality organisation, Stonewall's work includes policy development, cultural and attitudinal change, lobbying for legal change, providing information and offering good practice design and advice.
- Scoring nine out of ten in the Stonewall University Guide 2015, the University of Birmingham also has fantastic support and resources for LGBTQ students, as well as a thriving city-centre scene. Furthermore, Attitude and Diva magazines independently voted the University of Birmingham as one of the best universities in the country to be an LGBTQ student. First year undergraduates are also offered an LGBT housing option when applying for accommodation. Furthermore, the University is pioneering a project that aims to embed LGBTQ issues within the curriculum across the University.
- The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 countries.