Empowering employees to be themselves: Inclusive workplace puts LGBTQ+ Action Plan into practice and champions diversity

As LGBTQ+ History Month draws to a close, the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn has visited a Welsh workplace already living and breathing recommendations from the recently launched LGBTQ+ Action Plan.

The plan, which sets out how the Welsh Government will make a real difference to the lives, prospects and outcomes for all LGBTQ+ people, was launched at the start of LGBTQ+ History Month as part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.

It underlines Wales’ intention to advance LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion and includes a wide range of policy-specific actions from improving safety, education, housing, health and social care, to promoting community cohesion and more.

One of the plan’s actions is to encourage private sector employers to be LGBTQ+ inclusive through measures such as improving access to information, advice and guidance on employing LGBTQ+ workers, and implementing equalities policies and procedures that safeguard against LGBTQ+ discrimination.

Principality Building Society is an employer that prides itself on diversity and inclusivity and has had many of the recommended measures of the ‘Inclusive Workplaces’ section of the action plan in effect for several years.

Speaking on a visit there, the Deputy Minister said:

“Being able to be yourself in the workplace like I have seen here today is so important to feeling happy at work. It improves the health of workers, leads to better working relationships and can boost creativity and productivity.

“As LGBTQ+ History Month comes to an end, we rightly reflect on how far we’ve come in the struggle for equality. Workplaces all across Wales have of course improved in recent decades.

“Sadly though, research undertaken during the development of our action plan showed 10% of respondents had experienced verbal harassment while almost a quarter had shockingly been outed at work. This is unacceptable.

“Nobody should feel they have to hide who they really are. We want to make Wales the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe. A Wales where hate is consigned to history.

“Through our LGBTQ+ Action Plan, we are committed to meaningful change for LGBTQ+ communities. That means wiping out discrimination across the board and empowering all those in employment to be themselves – just like the staff here are.”

The Deputy Minister met with Principality Building Society’s LGBTQ+ network, which was formed by colleagues of the organisation.

Vicky Wales, Chief Customer Officer at Principality said: “As an organisation that strives to be diverse and inclusive we welcome the LGBTQ+ Action Plan as it mirrors so much of what we are trying to achieve as a leading employer in Wales.

“Principality works hard to empower our colleagues to ensure we have an inclusive workplace. Some colleagues have said that it’s led to them, for the first time, feeling comfortable to be their true selves at work.”

Shane Prosser, Chair of Principality’s PRIDE network said: “When I started my career in the financial industry back in 2011, with a different employer, I took the decision from my first day not to talk about my sexuality.

“This was not because I was embarrassed about being gay, but because I felt that being a gay man would hinder the possibility of me progressing in my career.

“When joining Principality in 2018, it all felt very different, and on my first day when I mentioned my partner, there was pure acceptance. I told myself, I can just be me here and be happy.”

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