The University’s Rose Bowl hosted the charity’s flagship northern conference in Leeds for the first time, following three years in Manchester. The event focused on issues surrounding lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) equality and inclusion; considering best practice for these policies in the workplace.
225 delegates from some of the country’s largest employers, who have pledged to enforce open and safe working environments were joined by an array of keynote speakers, including Stonewall’s Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, Cheshire fireman Nic Brennan, and journalist Stephanie Hirst, who discussed her personal story and the support that she received from her employer while she underwent gender reassignment.
Throughout the day, breakout sessions centred on: effective leadership; supporting bisexual and transgender staff; exploring religion and ethnicity; building and sustaining partnerships; and the importance of LGBT role models in the workplace.
Josh Willacy, Stonewall’s Client Account Manager for Yorkshire, said: “After three great events in Manchester, we selected Leeds because we wanted to be able to spark more awareness in Yorkshire, with currently only 18 per cent of the LGBT staff in the region out in the workplace. We came into the event not knowing how popular it would be, and I have to say, it exceeded our expectations. The Rose Bowl was fantastic, it encouraged our delegates to be sociable and to mingle and had enough break out rooms for all of our sessions. We have had nothing but positive feedback, we connected so well and lots of people left feeling empowered.”
Leeds Beckett University was chosen to host this event due to its strong working relationship with Stonewall. The University was recognised in January 2015 for its commitment to promoting the rights of LGBT staff and students, entering the top 100 British employers in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index at number 51. The University also signed the ‘No Bystanders Pledge’ in February 2015 in support of the Stonewall’s anti-bullying campaign. Champions of LGBT rights at the University are the Rainbow Rose Forum.
Andrew Disbury, Director of Leeds Beckett University’s International Office and Chair of the Rainbow Rose Forum, commented: “I am so delighted that Leeds Beckett University was chosen for this brilliant event, and that it was such a massive success. By being able to host this conference it shows just how highly regarded our University is by Stonewall, and I hope that it is the first of many held here. My biggest hope is that this often emotional day has left a lasting impression on those that attended, and that they are able to feel safe, happy and themselves at work.”