RT Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, addressed delegates in her keynote speech at LGBT charity Stonewall’s Workplace Conference today (Friday 26 April).
During her speech she highlighted the role organisations and businesses can play in pushing forward LGBT equality.
The cabinet member told the London conference: ‘For some LGBT people, it can still take immense courage just to be themselves. While many battles have been won, complacency is not an option.’
She also called on senior leaders in the room to step up as role models for inclusion and diversity in their companies and communities.
She said: ‘In order to build the businesses of tomorrow we need workforces that are able to authentically be themselves. When you get this right, when LGBT employees are accepted and celebrated, they will be able to thrive.’
Other speakers at the conference included Stonewall’s Bi Role Model of the Year Hafsa Qureshi from the Ministry of Justice and Nour Shaker from Vodaphone who is the company’s Trans Advisor for Vodafone UK’s LGBT+ Friends Network.
Held at the QEII centre in London, delegates attended a diverse range of sessions delivered by experts in the field, giving them the tools and confidence to make their workplaces welcoming environments for all LGBT staff.
For the first time ever select conference sessions were live streamed around the world. Supported by P&G, the innovative remote access scheme allowed employees across global organisations to hear from leading professionals on advancing LGBT inclusion internationally.
The day wrapped up with an insightful panel discussion on the intersections of LGBT identity and faith, with speakers including Reverend Jide Macaulay founder and CEO of House of Rainbow, Surat-Shaan Knan of Liberal Judaism and Rahni Binjie of Imkaan.
This year was the biggest Workplace Conference the LGBT charity has ever hosted, with over 800 delegates attending the annual event which is Europe’s leading conference on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion in the workplace.
Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt said: ‘In today’s world, any company not taking action on equality will be left behind. Simply put, organisations cannot afford to exclude talented people, or to limit their potential.
‘I want all workplaces to be a welcoming and supportive environment for everybody, so LGBT people can do their best and get on in life. That’s why through our LGBT Action Plan we are working to better understand the experiences of LGBT staff and helping businesses to be more inclusive.’
Stonewall’s CEO Ruth Hunt gave her final Workplace Conference speech following a tribute from the charity’s Chair of the Board of Trustees Jan Gooding. Stonewall’s Chair praised Ruth Hunt’s inspirational leadership and unmatched drive over the last five years.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said: ‘This year’s conference takes place a month before we celebrate Stonewall’s 30th birthday. We sometimes forget that it wasn’t that long ago that being LGBT meant you could be fired from work or denied service because of who you are. Stonewall, along with many other businesses, organisations, and activists worked hard to change that.
‘But even today, more than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) still hide their identity at work for fear of discrimination. While it’s important to celebrate how far we’ve come, we cannot be complacent. Every one of us has the power to create positive change, not just in our workplaces, but also in our local communities, places of worship, sports club and schools. Now more than ever, we need to come together as a collective of diverse people, united in a desire to create a more inclusive world where all LGBT people are accepted without exception.’