Greens have voiced their disappointment with the Labour Council’s decision not to join the Stonewall Equality index this year. Brighton & Hove City Council, which has been part of the index since it started in 2005, has regularly been voted the top local authority in its commitment to LGBT-equality. Last year the Green-led council appeared at number 12 of all employers after previously rising to number 3 in 2009.
The award is a benchmark of good progress which has helped the Council to measure its performance on LGBT-equality. It’s free to enter with the only resources required being staff time to complete the application and ensure standards are being met. According to Stonewall, the scheme is “designed to challenge” and provides “a strategic framework for employers” to support them to create an inclusive workplace. Research has shown that employees from organisations ranked in Stonewall’s Top 100 exhibited higher levels of staff satisfaction and loyalty.
The Labour Council have argued that the Stonewall process would have required “considerable resources”, and have said rather than entering the scheme, they have chosen to assess themselves, using the Local Government Association (LGA) Equality Framework for Local Government.
Green Councillor and Convener of the Green group Phélim Mac Cafferty said:
“The Stonewall index has been a vital tool in driving up the Council’s standards on LGBT equality, challenging us to continually improve. Whenever performance has dropped, the index has alerted us to the fact and allowed us to refocus our efforts. I’m really concerned that by failing to participate in the scheme for the first time since it began in 2005, our performance could drop dramatically. Without a rigorous process to follow, there is a danger that we could become complacent and fail to deliver on LGBT equality”.
“Under the Green administration, the council made huge strides forward on equality for the trans community. In multiple years we were voted the top council in the country on the Stonewall Equality Index. Twice- in 2012 and in 2014- the city Council won the Stonewall Education Equality Award as the leading council combating homophobia in the classroom. Our ongoing commitment to LGBT equality was the right thing to do, and makes financial sense as a more inclusive city council means a happier, more diverse and more productive workforce which reflects the people we serve. Labour’s removal from the Index is a real set-back to that hard work.
“In 2014 Labour leader Warren Morgan told us that “A Labour council will work to restore our position and reputation as an LGBT employer from day one”. Now it seems that while talk is cheap, real action is lacking. How can we restore our position if we don’t even enter? Self-regulation and monitoring using light-touch schemes simply won’t cut it – we need to be challenged to adhere to the highest standards and show we are truly committed to LGBT equality”.