North West come out trumps at Stonewall’s gay-friendly employers awards ceremony

The best places to work if you are a member of the LGBT community were announced at the Stonewall Top Employers 2015: The Workplace Equality Index North West awards ceremony in Manchester this week.

The event, hosted by local law firm DWF, brought together the North West’s top employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff – leading the way in the top three spots were The Co-operative, Cheshire Fire and Rescue and The University of Manchester.

This is the third year running The Co-op have taken away the prize for the area’s most gay-friendly workplace, while it was the first time Manchester University have ever made the list.

The first timers took home the region’s Network Group of the Year award, an ‘accolade recognising the sterling efforts of your Employee Network Group in advancing representation of LGBT people within your organisation’.

University Equality and Diversity Advisor Paul Marks-Jones said: “Given that the ALLOUT Network celebrates its birthday next week it is excellent and timely news about this award. 

“The network group has worked so hard over the last five years to raise awareness of LGBT issues around campus.

“The enthusiasm and drive from the group members means we never give up striving for a more equal place of work and study.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the group’s members and thank everyone for their contributions which have helped us win this award.”

Cheshire firefighter Nic Brennan, the service’s policy and inclusion manager Matt Maguire, area manager Gus O’Rourke and safety centre manager Mark Shone received the Stonewall award for highest performing public sector employer in the North West.

Chair of the service’s LGBT network, Matt Maguire was honoured with Stonewall’s North West Role Model award.

Accepting the award Matt said: “This is a real honour and reflects the progress we’ve made around LGBT equality, which means the organisation is better placed to respond to the issues faced by its employees and the LGBT community.

“Firefighters, support staff and volunteers come from all walks of life. For LGBT employees, knowing that the organisation and colleagues will support them to be themselves means they can focus on the job.”

Also commended by LGBT charity Stonewall was the revelation that the North West is where gay men and women feel most comfortable to be open about their sexuality in the workplace.

The charity’s equality questionnaire found 29%of lesbian, gay and bisexual workers in the region are completely out at work – the highest proportion of workers across Britain.

Stonewall’s James Lawrence said: “What’s fascinating about the statistics is the North West has 29% of openly gay employees, higher than the North East which is only 15% and interestingly even higher than London with 27%.”

The Top 100 list is based on the results of Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index – first established in 2005 – which is determined by a range of key indicators and a confidential questionnaire of lesbian, gay and bisexual staff.

Over 10,000 individual participants and 400 businesses partake and awards ceremonies are held annually across the UK for the winners.

Nationally The Co-operative, Cheshire Fire and Rescue and The University of Manchester placed 26th, 31st and 43rd respectively.

Manchester City Council and Riverside Housing, who placed 37th on the country’s index, also attended the ceremony, which aimed to bring together all the North West’s top employers for LGBT staff.

Law firm DWF, who hosted the event, have recently seen one of their solicitors, Paul Maddock, named in the Telegraph’s Top 50 LGBT Out at Work Executives list.

He said: “This yearly event offers a real opportunity to commend key North West businesses that believe, like us, diversity makes a business stronger and that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential in a supportive environment.”

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