Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service (LBFRS) have been recognised by Stonewall UK as one of the top 100 employers on the Workplace Equality Index (WEI).
The index is the definitive list of Britain’s most ‘gay-friendly’ workplaces with the rankings demonstrating the achievements of employers on lesbian, gay and bisexual equality issues.
It is the first time a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has made it into the top 100 and is recognition of the work being done in Lothian and Borders on equality issues and in support of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
Chief Fire Officer David Millar, Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, said:
“We are delighted to receive this award. We have worked hard to ensure we have an inclusive workplace culture where our entire staff feel supported whatever their sexual orientation. We continue to engage with staff on sexual orientation equality issues to create an environment where they feel able to be themselves and work free from discrimination.
“As we move towards a single Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, local senior officers have assumed the leadership role in engaging with LGB staff to ensure that they know they will be accepted whatever their sexual orientation.”
Fiona Munro, Organisational Development Manager at Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said:
“We’ve undertaken specific initiatives to ensure lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people know that within our Service there is an on-going commitment to equality issues. Putting equality issues at the heart of everything we do also ensures that we are best able to serve the diverse communities of our Service area.
“Our team has worked exceptionally hard to promote engagement and we are very proud of the achievement and hope to continue the progress being made.”
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service have been a Diversity Champion member since 2006 and in that time, they have made steady progress towards improving their workplaces for their lesbian, gay and bisexual employees.
LBFRS has a network group of 10 members, which has been running since 2005 and is the longest running fire and rescue service LGBT network in Scotland. The Chief Fire Officer is the senior sponsor for the network group and regularly meets with the network chair. Recently the network has used social media, such as Facebook, to extend its outreach work to as many staff as possible.
The Chief Fire Officer (and his predecessors in that role) have been keen champions for equality and the on-going support from senior management has given a strong message on LGB equality issues both internally and at external events with the public, stakeholders and other agencies.
In the past year Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, have:
- Held a Pride breakfast for the second year, attended by members of staff and the LGB community
- Engaged proactively with LGB people by an outreach event entitled Working with our Diverse Communities
- Provided support for LGB members of staff through a confidential contacts programme
- Profiled LGB employees in their employee newsletter
LBFRS has also consulted LGB service users by undertaking a feedback survey during Pride. The results were presented to the Equalities Working Group and subsequent actions have been developed and taken forward.
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service are also keen to recruit and attract the best talent to their organisation and have developed targeted marketing, such as posters, to LGB communities to ensure the Service workforce reflects diversity.
Stonewall Scotland are currently working closely with LBFRS, as they merge with other fire and rescue services to become a national Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and service users continue to be treated with respect and dignity.
Lothian Borders Fire and Rescue Service recognise how important it is to involve local people, including LGB communities, in the design and delivery of their services and this is something staff remain committed to taking forward as they move to a new single Service.