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Inclusion, intersectionality and the role of allies at the cross-government LGBT* event

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DWP Digital's cross-government LGBT* event on 11 October in Manchester (in partnership with OneTeamGov) brought together colleagues from a range of departments for a day of networking, discussion and practical action on the issue of LGBT* inclusion. Five people who were at the event share their stories about what they learnt.

"It's about having a completely inclusive culture"

Shelley Hardman - DWP Pride Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Lead

 “Seeing so many people coming together for an event like this was an incredibly proud moment to be part of. It brought together people from across the Civil Service to talk about the really important subject of sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s a really important conversation we need to be having across government.

Shelley Hardman, DWP
Shelley Hardman, DWP

We had a keynote from Stonewall as well as the Welsh Government talking about the fantastic work they’ve done in terms of their position on the Stonewall Equality Index. There were colleagues from among others, the Ministry of Defence, DWP, HM Revenue & Customs and the Environment Agency. Too many to mention!

I hope people took home with them an understanding of how they can make a difference, and a passion in their belly to make them want to. It’s about having a complete culture and behaviour that’s inclusive.”

"It was a great opportunity to share best practice"

Martin Quinton - Co-Chair of the Environment Agency’s LGBT* Network

“The event was a fantastic opportunity for government organisations to get together and share best practice on what they can do to be more inclusive.

In the LGBT* community, everyone’s got a different story to tell and a different experience. I enjoyed hearing some of those stories in the workshop I was running about how people can be a visible ally to the community. We shared our learnings and heard lots of ideas from other people in other departments that we can put to good use in the Environment Agency.

Martin Quinton, Environment Agency
Martin Quinton, Environment Agency

In the last five years I’ve seen my department progress a lot in terms of LGBT* inclusion, but it was interesting to hear about and discuss the challenges the Trans community face on a day to day basis.

It’s like a butterfly effect; people will go back and speak to colleagues and managers about what they’ve learned and about what they can do to make a difference, and it will multiply.”

"I had some really interesting conversations about intersectionality"

Charlotte Jackson – Head of Inclusive Workplace, Ministry of Justice

“It was interesting to hear from Stonewall and get more insight into what they’re looking for in terms of really building LGBT* inclusion in the workplace.

Delegates listen to a keynote from Emma Jennings from Stonewall
Delegates listen to a keynote from Emma Jennings from Stonewall

I had some really useful conversations in the breakout sessions with people about something that’s very dear to my heart, and that’s the issue of intersectionality. Do we talk enough about the different groups we have within the LGBT* community, and how their other identities can interplay with their sexual orientation or gender identity? Do we do enough for LGBT* people of colour, or LGBT* people of faith?

I think we need visible role models who can speak from those multiple identities and we need to do more work across government to talk about intersectionality so I was glad there was a focus on that at the event.”

"There was an impassioned call to develop ally networks"

Alan Oliver, DWP Digital 

“I co-ran a breakout session on inclusive networks with my colleague, Bryan Sharp. The session unleashed a buzz of ideas, discussion – and challenge – around how to build our LGBT* staff networks. The central ideas around personal action were to be more visible, and vocal, with LGBT* people as allies who challenge bullying or negative behaviours.

Delegates at the event looking at post it notes on a wall
Alan's breakout session at the event

At team level we heard great ideas, including pooling ideas to create informative resources which then can be shared in our teams and launching training and promoting good practice.

At organisation level, good practice included being LGBT* positive during the recruitment and induction process, as well as reviewing HR policies. There was an impassioned call to develop ally networks that are active in their support of LGBT* inclusivity."

"There was such a lot of energy, ideas and commitment"

Jonathan Mills - DWP Executive Team Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation champion

“One of the things that’s most important for me about being Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation champion in DWP is trying to provide the space and support for the networks to grow. The event really showed how those networks are working well with other networks from other departments. It was great to see and I wondered:

“Why didn’t we do something like this before?”

Delegates at the event
Delegates at the event

I hosted a panel discussion at the event and one of the other things that stood out from that discussion was the power of being an ally. As someone who sees myself as an ally to the LGBT* community, I took away some thoughts on what more I can do to build that community of allies in DWP and across government.

Overall, it was a brilliant event, there was such a lot of energy, a lot of ideas and a commitment that makes me think the conversations and networking will last long afterwards.”


Watch a short video below featuring delegates talking about the event and the importance of inclusion in the workplace.

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