Why we’re proud to support Pride in Leadership

By Amelia Lee

At Charity People, striving to put equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at the heart of everything we do has become our passion and our mission. For us, that means creating spaces where people feel that they can bring their whole selves to work.

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening of The Proud Place in Manchester, a beautiful new space and home for young LGBT+ people (as well as a support network built with the help of partners and allies). It was an absolute celebration of diversity and difference with many goosebump moments, but also a reflection of the pressing need for spaces like this. While they need to exist, we still have work to do to fight for everyone’s right to be who they are, thinking especially of the trans community currently facing ignorance, hatred and discrimination all over the world.

To inspire this next generation of young people and leaders, we’re supporting the phenomenal work Pride in Leadership is doing to elevate, connect and encourage existing and aspiring LGBT+ leaders, and promote visibility by making workplaces safe and welcoming for everyone.

Sadly, the figures paint a damning picture of where we are right now. In 2020 CIPD found that, of those who had experienced harassment at work, 13% reported it related to sexual orientation and 4% to gender reassignment. In addition, other research found that more than one in five respondents had experienced a negative or mixed reaction from others because of being LGBT+, and over three-quarters who had experienced a ‘serious’ workplace incident related to their sexuality said they didn’t report it because they thought nothing would happen or change.

Because the charity sector exists to serve, protect and champion rights, you would expect us to lead the way. Charity People’s latest figures suggest that 11% of candidates we worked with in the last financial year identified as LGBT+ versus around 3% of the UK population more broadly. But we can’t ever be complacent about actively seeking to create a diverse sector through inclusive recruitment or stressing the importance of inclusive workplaces.

Despite changes to the law and wider public opinion since the dark days of Section 28, hate crime towards the LGBT+ community has increased year on year since 2015. In cities like London, Birmingham Edinburgh and Liverpool that should be safe, proud havens for LGBT+ people, there has been gender-based violence and homophobic attacks. In this moment, challenging prejudice and homophobia is essential. If we are to ask LGBT+ leaders to be visible, to talk openly about their experiences and to bring their whole selves to work, they must feel safe.

As a recruiter, I sometimes work alongside charities with a desire to increase representation from the LGBT+ community. It can be really challenging to find LGBT+ leaders and candidates because being openly out on social media can be a risk. Rather than asking, ‘how do we find LGBT+ leaders?’, I’d like to see us all reframe the question to, ‘how do we make workplaces safe and welcoming so that they are attractive to LGBT+ candidates?’

We are constantly learning and making mistakes as we navigate our own EDI journey at Charity People. We’re moving towards a holistic approach to increasing diversity where recruitment is just one piece of the puzzle. When charities have done the internal work to create a safe, welcoming and nurturing place for the LGBT+ community, we can support that work with training and advice on inclusive recruitment as well as headhunting for representative leaders and candidates.

We can’t expect LGBT+ leaders to do this work for us. There is a wider organisational responsibility for change. We need to take practical steps on policy, learning and development, to influence and shape the culture of our workplaces – this is true allyship.

Inclusive workplaces create the space for representation at leadership level and throughout the organisation. They inspire people from all identities to think, ‘I can do that too’. They encourage the diversity of thought and opinion that leads to better ideas, better innovation, better results and a better world.

That’s why we continue to partner with Pride in Leadership, a volunteer-led network of passionate LGBT+ leaders and allies, as they create safe spaces for the LGBT+ community to build confidence, improve visibility, mobilise, inspire and support LGBT+ leaders across the UK and beyond. Join the network and come along to their upcoming events (in person and online).

How can I get involved?

Come along to the in-person launch event – Manchester 7th July 2022 – or join one of the online events.