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LGBT inclusion at the House of Commons

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Anne Foster, head of diversity and inclusion, explains how the HOC made it onto Stonewall's top 100 employers list

Workplace equality networks are one of the “greatest successes” of the House of Commons' (HOC) LGBT strategy, according to Anne Foster, its head of diversity and inclusion.

The HOC was ranked 28th in LGBT charity Stonewall’s top 100 employers in 2017, making it the fourth-highest government organisation on the list. ParliOUT, a network in support of LGBTQ+ people in parliament, was named one of Stonewall’s Highly Commended Networks this year.

“One of our greatest successes is the development of our workplace equality networks, which all parliamentary pass holders are eligible to join,” Foster told HR magazine. “The networks are inclusive, so you don't have to share a protected characteristic to be a member. Although they also create spaces for people to share their common experience, such as women-only mentoring circles and our BAME staff trained to reverse-mentor senior white colleagues to better understand the impact of their decision-making."

She added: “Recently the WENs [workplace equality networks] have focused on working together to raise awareness of intersectionality of identity, and have worked with us to develop the Parliamentary Role Models campaign, which champions the importance of having visible diverse role models at all levels of our organisation.”

The approach appears to be working, as the HOC scored full marks in Stonewall's anonymous staff survey. “I hope this demonstrates that the culture and working environment have become even more inclusive and people feel supported,” said Foster.

She added that having allies is key to success. “Many staff, including our management board, signed Stonewall’s No Bystanders pledge, and Mr Speaker [John Bercow]’s own pledge was displayed to the public,” said Foster. “Our annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards have seen a rise in nominations, with colleagues sharing and celebrating successes across teams, including with the House of Lords.

"We have been working hard to reach out to a more diverse audience, both in engaging with the House of Commons as the centre of democracy and also encouraging jobseekers to consider us as an employer of choice. This is helping to address the under-representation of BAME staff and women at senior levels."

The HOC is holding a recruitment open day on 23 February.