MI5 has been recently named as best employer in United Kingdom promoting LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) diversity, after a survey was conducted by Stonewall, a leading gay rights charity. The organisation topped about 400 other organisations to lead the 2016 list for LGTB staff. MI6, the secret services organisation, lists at 36.
Stonewall has said that MI5 showed equality in ten areas of employment policy and practice, like networking groups, training and community engagement. The anonymous survey, conducted on some 60,000 employees, assessed staff engagement, career development and other factors. MI5 Director Andrew Parker has been quoted saying, “Diversity is vital for MI5, not just because it's right that we represent the communities we serve, but because we rely on the skills of the most talented people whoever they are, and wherever they may be. We know that people perform better when they can be themselves and it's been proven that diversity among staff leads to a more productive, positive and creative workplace environment.”
Stonewall compiles The Top 100 Employers list annually, from submissions to the Workplace Equality Index, an important tool used by employers to assess their achievements and progress on LGBT equality in the workplace. The win does seem well deserved as in the previous year; MI5 provided its staff with quality employment policies, training, career development opportunities, and especially support for LGBT employees. The agency has a dedicated LGBT social network, which hosts social events, and an annual conference for gay staff together with MI6 and GCHQ. The security service agency, which uses a ‘reverse mentoring’ scheme which buddies straight managers with junior gay staff, has had to work extra hard for this extraordinary achievement. The victory is indeed remarkable because MI5, the domestic intelligence agency, had imposed a ban on gay employees up until 25 years back. Until 1991, the organisation did not recruit openly gay men or women. Even after the ban was lifted, MI5 consciously worked towards improving diversity in 2008 after hiring Stonewall for advice, and only four years back, in 2013, is when it first made it to the list. Of the other armed forces, which lifted their ban in 2000, the Royal Navy makes it to the 10th place and the army is at 32nd.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall CEO, has stated: "Those organisations that are 'getting it right' are not only improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff, stakeholders, clients and customers, but are also reaping business benefits. We know that people perform better when they can be themselves, and it’s been proven that diversity among staff leads to a more productive, positive and creative workplace environment.” The other organisations that rounded up the top positions in the list are Lloyds Banking Group, National Assembly for Wales, B3Living, Pinsent Masons, Tower Hamlets Homes, Leicestershire County Council. Mostly legal and housing organisations were seen in Top 10, and local government, education and healthcare organisations were prominent in Top 100. Last year, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust made it to the top of the list