Keep focusing on workplace equality during the economic downturn, employers told

Parties unite to say don’t ditch equality

Margot James, Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party and Baroness Royall, leader of the House of Lords, both used their keynote speeches to highlight that lesbian and gay staff are more productive when fully supported by their employers at Stonewall’s workplace conference, sponsored by RBS, yesterday.

Margot James said: ‘I believe that there’s a business case as well as a moral case for continuing the battle for greater equality in workplaces. The companies that stay loyal to that agenda will hang on to their quality workforces and their future.’

Jan Royall said: ‘Stonewall argues in relation to the workplace that people perform better when they can be themselves and I agree with that. Equality is not only a right in itself, but it makes economic sense too.’

Dr Nicola Brewer, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission also spoke at the conference about the harassment and bullying of gay staff that is reported through the EHRC helpline: ‘The message we are getting is that when you are gay, people get personal.’ She also commended Stonewall’s work: ‘I think Stonewall is raising the bar and then punching way above it.’

Stonewall research Peak Performance, released last year and sponsored by IBM, laid out the business case for equality. The survey of lesbian and gay staff found that participants almost universally reported a positive link between an inclusive workplace climate and their own productivity and motivation.

‘In the credit crunch, shrewd employers know it makes good business sense not to cut back on robust diversity initiatives,’ says David Shields, Stonewall’s Director of Workplace Programmes.

RBS reinstated their commitment to supporting diversity events by sponsoring Stonewall’s workplace conference for the third year running. Sarah Deaves, Chief Executive of Coutts UK, Royal Bank of Scotland, also spoke at the event.

The Stonewall workplace conference 2009 was attended by almost 500 people – a 40 per cent increase on attendees last year.


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