“Coming out has enabled me to celebrate being different,” says Sarah Armour, University of Sheffield’s Disability Student Advisor.
With a strong focus on supprting the LGBT community, The University of Sheffield has once again made the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list for workplace equality - an annual audit of workplace culture for lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff. To achieve a place on Stonewall’s increasingly competitive index, the University of Sheffield has successfully demonstrated their organisation’s performance against a set of best practice criteria.
Supporting the LGBT community
The University of Sheffield is an avid supporter of the LGBT community for both employees and students alike so its relationship with Stonewall is important. Stonewall's survey asks 11 short questions covering key indicators of workplace culture including aspects like:
- are lesbian, gay and bis*xual people comfortable disclosing their orientation at work?
- are there visible lesbian, gay, bis*xual and trans role models in the organisation?
- are lesbian, gay, bis*xual and trans employees supported by managers and senior managers?
- are staff confident reporting homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in the workplace?
Increasing focus on trans inclusion
Matt Mears, LGBT Staff Network Chair, explains why he believes an increased emphasis on trans is important, saying “The University has been great in developing an inclusive and safe working environment for lesbian, gay and bis*xual (LGB) staff and students, which has been recognised by our top 100 rankings for the past four years. This visible commitment to LGB equality has allowed me to be myself at work, and I’m now very pleased that Stonewall and the University are working to improve the visibility and inclusivity of trans students and staff. We can all be more positive and productive at work when we can simply be ourselves, regardless of how we identify".
In next year's Stonewall Index, no organisation will be recognised in the Top 100 without demonstrating they're committed to trans inclusion in their workplace. The University is working with their LGBT staff network and seeking feedback from individual trans people and external organisations regarding a trans policy for staff.
The University is also leading the way in its planning for training and awareness raising for trans inclusion. And unlike many other universities, the University of Sheffield even has a designated webpage providing details of the administrative support available to staff members for assisting trans-gender change students in understanding the wide range of professional, academic and personal support available from the University.
A thriving Open@TUoS network
Over 970 colleagues from right across the University have signed up to Open@TUoS, many of whom are wearing rainbow lanyards showing their support for LGBT equality and inclusion. The programme remains a key focus for the University, with the aim of reaching a broader range of supporters and the development of online support and information for allies.
Anglican Chaplain Reverend Jeremy Clines explains what wearing the rainbow lanyard means to him. "Wearing a rainbow lanyard as a Christian priest at the University Chaplaincy has opened up lots of conversations by dispelling many assumptions about what my perspective might be on this important area of equality. It's a relief to have something that so readily highlights to others that I'm an ally of those with LGBTQI+ identities."
Flying the rainbow flag
The University’s Professor Gill Valentine believes supporting the LGBT focus at the University is everyone's responsibility. "Creating an open and inclusive environment within our University, where people can be themselves, is everyone's responsibility. Wearing a rainbow lanyard is just one way that staff can show their support for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-S*xual and Transgender students and colleagues."
In fact, the University of Sheffield has certainly maintained a focus on Pride for many years. Back in 2013, for example, they flew a Rainbow Flag outside Firth Court as a visible symbol of the University's support for the LGBT community. A strong and visible commitment indeed.
Find out more about working at the University of Sheffield and the great opportunities available. Whether you’re LGBT or an ally, there are so many wonderful career options with this remarkable and progressive employer.
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