At a star-studded champagne reception held at the Tate Modern on 15th January, Touchstone gained entry to the Stonewall Top 100 Employers’ list for 2014, 4 years after becoming Stonewall Diversity Champions.
Touchstone is the first ever local charity to be awarded the accolade of being amongst the UK’s top gay-friendly employers, previous winners usually being large public or private sector companies such as Leeds City Council, Goldman Sachs, Ernst & Young, ITV and North Wales Police. Only 3 charities were in the top 100 category in 2013 with a slightly improved 6 in 2014; entry this year therefore represents a huge achievement for Touchstone and its staff.
Moving up a massive 53 places on its 2013 position, Touchstone has been placed 91 out of the UK’s top 100 employers, an astonishing achievement when one see the size of the charity and the very small number of resources it has expended, compared to other top 100 organisations. Chief Executive, Alison Lowe who was also named Yorkshire and Humber’s Senior Champion of the year said of the award “I am delighted that our commitment to fairness and equality for all our staff has been recognised in this way. I am passionate about the right of every worker at Touchstone to feel safe and to be themselves, Stonewall Top 100 membership tells everyone about their rights as an employee here and hopefully other employers will follow suit.”
Top 100 Employers are assessed using the Workplace Equality Index, a benchmarking tool from which Stonewall publishes the annual Top 100 Employers for the 1.7 million lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) working people in Britain. The index provides an evidence-based model of good practice and challenges employers to improve their performance for LGB staff. As well as challenging employers, Stonewall also helps to develop organisations through their Diversity Champions Programme, Britain’s leading good practice forum on sexual orientation in the workplace which works with 600 major employers, across many sectors, in developing and sharing good practice.
As part of its commitment to achieving Stonewall Top 100 Employer status, the Senior Management Team (including our staff LGBT lead Jay Silver) and Board of Trustees committed themselves to creating a culture where all staff could feel safe and be themselves in the workplace. This vision was also extended to Touchstone LGBT service users who research shows are more likely to self harm and attempt suicide as a result of being both unwell and subject to homophobic harassment and discrimination. Resources and time have been spent on achieving our Strategic Business Plan objective of becoming a Stonewall Top 100 Employer by 2015 but the thing that made the most difference was the belief from staff across the organisation that for an organisation like ours that lives the ethos of fairness and inclusion, this was the right thing to do.