Imperial College London has been listed among Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers 2010 for being one of the top employers of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people. The Workplace Equality Index, released on 13th January, places Imperial at number 79 ahead of the only other HEI (higher education institution) in the list, Liverpool John Moores University, which follows at 85.
Rector Sir Keith O’Nions welcomed the news by saying: “Imperial’s great strength lies in the people who work here and we can’t afford to let talent go to waste due to ignorance or prejudice.” He added: “Making it into Stonewall’s Index of Top 100 Employers is a real milestone for us and sends a strong message that discrimination based on sexual orientation has no place on our campuses and will not be tolerated.” Imperial was one of the first HEIs to take part in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme which allows employers to work with Stonewall in promoting equality for LGBT people in the workplace. Since 1989, Stonewall has been a professional lobby group aimed at preventing the stigmatising and attack of LGBT people. Over the years, Stonewall has successfully campaigned on numerous fronts which include lifting the ban on lesbians and gay men serving in the military, as well as helping to secure civil partnerships. Stonewall is part of the Equality and Diversity Forum which is a group of organisations with an aim to address and progress on age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, and sexual orientation issues. In January 2009, Imperial relaunched the staff advisory group Imperial 600 which ensures that all College policies afford the same right to LGBT people as everybody else. Rector O’Nions pointed out, “My thanks and congratulations go in particular to the members of Imperial 600 for leading the work that has made this success possible.”
felix spoke to Chris Darby who is the President of IQ, the LGBT society at Imperial. He welcomed the good news but also stressed that although “this is fantastic for the staff, there is a long way to go for the student body”. He admitted that if there was to be a Top 100 list of LGBT-friendly universities, Imperial might well not feature.
Unlike the staff advisory group Imperial 600 who received a boost in funds accompanying their relaunch, as well as increased efforts towards achieving diversity and equality, the student LGBT community has seen no such additional support.
Hostility towards LGBT students at Imperial remains a problem, and Chris feels that the diversity that exists at Imperial is bittersweet. Issues of race, disability, religion and gender are all widely accepted as deserving equality but according to Chris, there remains a certain “taboo” associated with sexual orientation. Nevertheless, Imperial’s place on the Top 100 Employers list is an official indication that Imperial is striving towards equality for LGBT staff, and hopefully the recent efforts among the staff will also be seen within the student community.
Please visit [www.stonewall.org.uk](”\“) for more information on their work. There is a Graduate Recruitment Guide available on [www.startingoutguide.org.uk](”\“) which features organisations that work alongside Stonewall.