|Going up: The National Assembly for Wales (Getty)|
The rise of the National Assembly for Wales to become the top employer for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in the UK is a story of how team work and commitment can make extraordinary things happen.
As one of the first out politicians elected to the Assembly, it is a source of immense pride to me that our parliament has become a beacon of LGBT equality in the workplace. Over the last ten years LGBT staff and allies, guided by the political commitment of successive Presiding Officers and Assembly Commissioners, have taken incremental steps to build a culture that allows people to be themselves in the workplace.
Increasing visibility We should be the place that the best and the brightest want to work, knowing that they are valued and can be themselves The Assembly has been visible in celebrating LGBT History Month and been present at Pride across Wales. It has supported LGBT staff to organize in a network that in turn inform workplace policies and procedures on mental health, pay and parental leave.
It has let non-LGBT people know they can be our allies. It would not look out of place if the rainbow flag permanently flew outside the Senedd, alongside Y Ddraig Goch and the Union flag. But what has impressed me most is the refusal of LGBT people and our allies to be content with just being ‘good’. We want to keep pushing to be the best that we can be because we believe that in a modern Wales, our national parliament should be the model to aspire to.
We should be the place that the best and the brightest want to work, knowing that they are valued and can be themselves. Trans inclusivity One of the accolades which the Assembly won was Top Trans Employer in this, the first year of Stonewall’s trans-specific awards. Dedicated and strong leadership across the organization and at many different levels have kept the progress on track. That is a lesson worth learning if you’re in an organisation that is also intent on improving Through initiatives like introducing gender-neutral toilets and shower facilities, inclusive policies on Transitioning at Work and providing trans awareness resources to staff in public facing roles the Assembly has put into action the inclusive principles which should guide all workplaces.
We’re turning a social commitment into practical outcomes and actively seeking the changes that let trans staff know that this is their workplace too. Lessons for Westminster, Holyrood, and Stormont This work hasn’t happened by accident or in isolation. Dedicated and strong leadership across the organization and at many different levels have kept the progress on track. That is a lesson worth learning if you’re in an organization that is also intent on improving. Our parliaments should be institutions which reflect the diversity of life in all parts of the UK – amongst elected representatives, yes, but also as places of work The House of Commons has moved up to 23rd in the Top 100 Employers list.
There is a way to go for both the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, neither of which yet appear on the list. My message to Westminster and other UK parliaments is that you too can rise even further up the list of inclusive employers and make it easier for staff to be themselves at work by following some of the steps the Assembly has taken in Wales.
We look forward to the day when all the UK Parliaments can be exemplars of an inclusive workplace and are happy to share our experiences. At their best, our parliaments should be institutions which reflect the diversity of life in all parts of the UK – amongst elected representatives, yes, but also as places of work. Jeremy Miles AM writes in his capacity as the Welsh Labour Assembly Member for Neath.