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2020 LGBT History Month and our partnership with Stonewall

As we approach 2020 LGBT History Month, we realised we hadn’t yet blogged about a partnership we set up recently with Europe’s biggest LGBT charity, Stonewall.

Having a diverse workforce, and a culture that’s truly welcoming for everyone, is incredibly important for Softwire. Competition for tech talent is high, so your company culture needs to be inclusive if you’re to attract and retain the best people. Moreover, by having this kind of culture, people do their best work, which means happy customers and more business. It makes sense on all levels.

Keeping the conversation broad

Discussions around diversity in the technology industry tend to focus on gender or ethnicity: women are nearly always under-represented, as are black, Asian and minority-ethnic groups. We’ve previously discussed what we’re doing to try to address our own gender and ethnicity imbalances.

Of course, this is just part of the picture. LGBT diversity and inclusivity is another. We’ve quite a few LGBT employees, and want to make sure we’re supporting them in the best ways possible.

LGBT inclusivity

This will be the third year we’re celebrating LGBT History Month, with a series of events, including films nights, talks and other activities.

We’ve got an active LGBT Community, which organises further events throughout the year. And we’ve had groups such as Gendered Intelligence come in to do lunchtime talks. As well as raising awareness among the wider staff population, these have been valuable in providing people a safe place in which to ask the organisations giving the talks questions they may not otherwise feel comfortable asking.

Survey results

Last year, we commissioned an independent inclusion survey by Diversio. This scored us across five key areas, including our culture, access to networks and having a safe work environment. Those identifying as LGBT+ scored the company higher for ‘access to networks’ than the overall staff population, but lower – albeit very marginally – in other areas.

So what more can we do? The challenge with all aspects of diversity and inclusivity can be that you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s why we decided to partner with Stonewall.

As well as underlining our commitment to diversity and inclusion, it gives us the opportunity to learn from them. What are current best practices? What changes could we implement to make us more inclusive of LGBT people?

Changing the way we do things

It’s been an enlightening journey, and having Stonewall’s advice available to us has been extremely beneficial.

Off the back of our conversations, we’ve added a pronouns field to our recruitment and HR systems. We’ve updated our maternity policies, to ensure they are inclusive of trans and non-binary staff. We’ve launched a diversity calendar, highlighting key events throughout the year. And we’ll also be taking part in the 2020 UK Workplace Equality Index, to give us another snapshot of how we’re doing – and how we compare to other employers in our sector and region.

Continuous improvement

As with any initiatives around diversity and inclusion, these will be steps on a longer journey of improvement. Our knowledge will broaden, informed by our people, our peers and organisations such as Stonewall.

And as it does, we’ll continue to review all aspects of our business. This will ensure we’re always doing everything possible to provide all employees with a workplace in which they can be themselves.