University of Sheffield recognised as top employer for workplace equality

The University of Sheffield has been named as a top employer for workplace equality for the sixth year in a row by the leading LGBT+ charity Stonewall, achieving its highest ever ranking.

In recognition of its continued dedication to workplace equality, the University has been ranked 23rd in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2019 – a definitive benchmarking tool that helps employers to measure their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion in the workplace.

The University is passionate about developing an inclusive work environment where LGBT+ staff and students feel able to be themselves and can reach their full potential. To build on its progress so far, the institution will continue to work in partnership with staff, students and allies to further progress LGBT+ inclusion and continue to make improvements to its workplace in 2019.

Since first being named among the best employers for workplace equality six years ago, the University has introduced actions such as its Open@TUoS programme – an allies initiative that helps to empower staff to create an open and inclusive environment for LGBT+ colleagues, students and visitors. The programme is now supported by more than 2,300 members of the University’s community.

The Open@TUoS initiative has helped staff to visibly support LGBT+ inclusion through wearing rainbow lanyards, referencing Open@TUoS in their email signatures, promoting LGBT+ events, and displaying posters and leaflets across campus.

In addition, the University is holding face to face training sessions for staff to increase their understanding of trans inclusion and incorporating this into everyday practices. The University will continue to make trans inclusion a priority over the coming year.

To mark the publication of the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, staff from the University have been sharing their stories of why LGBT+ inclusion is important to them.

Professor Gill Valentine, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and the University’s Senior LGBT+ Champion, said: “I am very proud to be the LGBT+ Champion for the University of Sheffield. I came out at a time when being openly gay was taboo – there was no protection from equality legislation; section 28 of the Local Authority Act was in place which banned the promotion of homosexuality; and bisexual and trans issues were not even on the agenda.

“I experienced discrimination and harassment in the early stages of my career which I overcame in part through the support of straight allies. That’s why I’m passionate about developing an inclusive work environment. Over the 30 years there has been real and positive change in relation to equality and diversity in the workplace and the University of Sheffield has been at the forefront of many innovative initiatives to enable LGBT+ staff and students to reach their full potential. I am keen to continue the progress of this work as I recognise there is still more to be done.”

Nadia Fernandes from the University’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology explains why an inclusive community is important to her as a scientist: “A scientist is defined by many things; curiosity, creativity, sagacity – sexuality was never supposed to be one of them. I wear my rainbow lanyard for the discoverers and the discoveries lost to discrimination and for those who are currently in danger of being dismissed from writing history.”

Dr Matt Mears, Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network at the University, added: “As chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network I have been overwhelmed by the commitment of staff in joining the Open@TUOS allies programme, as well as taking part in the different training and events throughout the last year. All of this contributes to making the University of Sheffield a safe and welcoming institution. But we still have a long way to go. Transphobia, biphobia and homophobia still occur daily in our society, and it is only with the combined efforts of our LGBT+ staff, students and allies that we can continue to make the University of Sheffield an inclusive place to work and study.”

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