LGBT+ History Month 2021: 'We all have a duty to champion equality'

Date: 15 February 2021

Time: 15:30

I believe we all have a part to play in creating a safe, inclusive and diverse working environment that encourages respect and equality for all and a space that values and recognises the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity. 

As Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at SCFT and executive sponsor of our LGBT+ Staff Network, it’s my privilege to lead that work across our organisation for our staff and for our patients. 

This month it’s LGBT+ History Month and I want to use that opportunity to both reflect on the success of the LGBT+ Staff Network and explore some of the challenges and barriers that many people still face, whether at home or in the workplace. 

For those of you who do not know me, I am passionate that people feel able to bring their whole selves to work – that we celebrate and encourage diversity and that our workforce truly represents the communities we serve. 

After all, you cannot be what you cannot see. I really believe we have a duty, each and every one of us, to champion equality for all. 

We have made great progress over the last few years at SCFT and I am confident our commitment to diversity is improving our culture and practice. We’ve seen it reflected back to us in our staff survey results, and in what people tell us. 

Over the last year we’ve seen more services approach the LGBT+ Staff Network, keen to learn and embrace how they can be more inclusive and how they can better support their patients and staff. 

At the same time, all our networks (LGBT+; Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic; Disability; and Religion and Belief) are also supporting each other because people are not just one characteristic; they are a complex number of different characteristics, so working together has never been more important. 

But there is more we need to do. 

We must strive for better every day. For all the progress we have made, and we have made a lot, we cannot lose sight of our colleagues, and our patients, who continue to feel marginalised and who do not feel safe enough to be who they truly are when they come to work or receive care. 

I know, for example, that there are colleagues who hide key parts of themselves away, the parts of themselves that are LGBT+ or non-binary, and the nature of their family set-up. 

While we have good LGBT+ staff survey results, we need to make improvements in key areas. 

People who are bi or pan sexual, for example, are very under-represented in our Trust. 

We also don’t have any trans representatives on our LGBT+ Staff Network, and we don’t know whether we have any trans staff because our national staff reporting systems do not allow staff to record themselves as such. I find that sort of thing a constant source of frustration. For all the steps forward the NHS makes, we can sometimes be so far behind on the ‘small stuff’ that has such a significant impact. 

So, it’s very clear to me that we still have work to do before all of our LGBT+ staff feel able to bring their whole selves to the Trust. 

If you are one of my colleagues and you feel this way, I am sorry and I will do better.

Please help me make improvements by getting in touch with me (or the LGBT+ Staff Network) and sharing your experiences so that I can learn.

Finally, to our LGBT+ Staff Network, everyone it works with and all who support it, I want to thank you for the amazing work that you do standing with people who feel oppressed, fighting stigma, and having each other’s backs.

I look forward to all building on the good work the seeing the positive differences we will make together. 

If you want to speak to me about your personal experiences I will always listen. Email me at caroline.haynes3@nhs.net