Local LGBTQI+ charity Cara-Friend is encouraging businesses to commit to diversity and inclusion by signing up to the newly launched LGBTQI+ Inclusive Business Charter, supported by Danske Bank.
Designed to increase awareness and understanding of LGBTQI+ issues, the Charter will offer local businesses a package of bespoke guidance, advice, awareness-training, policy amendments and ongoing consultation to ensure all staff understand and recognise the importance and benefits of a more inclusive workplace.
The LGBTQI+ Inclusive Business Charter has received generous support from the Department of Finance’s Dormant Accounts Fund (NI), delivered by the National Lottery Community Fund.
As principal sponsor of the Inclusive Business Charter, Danske Bank is committed to not only supporting its own employees, but also prompting employers across Northern Ireland to tackle some of the issues and concerns facing staff from all genders and sexual orientations.
While Northern Ireland has made significant progress in establishing a more equal, diverse and inclusive society, many individuals still face obstacles to being their true self in the workplace.
At the launch Cara-Friend’s Chair, Dr Matt Leebody, spoke about the critical need for more companies to step up and show they are determined to make their businesses more inclusive and diverse, particularly with regards to LGBTQI+ staff:
“Most employers want to do right by their employees. At the same time many employers are aware of the increasingly abundant research which demonstrates a direct link between equality and productivity in the workplace.
“Yet at the same time we are still regularly contacted by LGBTQI+ employees who are facing serious issues and obstacles at work. And often those who should be able to help them in their workplaces do not have the training or access to the information needed to help support the employees.
“The new LGBTQI+ Business Charter will enable Cara-Friend to help employers to better support their employees. This is good for the employee. This is good for the productivity of the business. This is good for our society.”
Danske Bank outlined their support for the LGBTQI+ Inclusive Business Charter, with HR Director, Caroline van der Feltz stating:
“Inclusivity is becoming an increasing priority for businesses, and it is important that the LGBTQI+ community feel safe, supported and free to be themselves in the workplace – at Danske Bank, one of our key priorities is creating an environment where all colleagues can thrive and be themselves at work. Cara Friend’s LGBTQI+ Inclusive Business Charter offers companies the knowledge and training to effectively address inclusivity, equality and respect within their business to support their staff of all gender and sexual orientations.
“We are proud to work with Cara Friend on this progressive programme and we encourage local businesses to sign up to the charter to increase awareness and understanding of the LGBTQI+ community in their workplace.”
The Inclusive Business Charter encourages local companies to agree to undertake LGBTQI+ awareness training and update any Equality and Diversity policies to specifically reference LGBTQI+ inclusion. The Charter also encourages LGBTQI+ notice boards, the establishment of an LGBTQI+ staff support network and pledges to look at ways staff can establish a ‘legacy’ of support for colleagues.
Commenting on the wider success of the Dormant Accounts Fund, Minister of Finance, Conor Murphy MLA said:
“Cara-Friend was awarded almost £100,000 of funding through the Dormant Accounts Fund, supported by my Department and administered by the National Lottery Community Fund. It is great to see the positive impact that this funding is making to improve the experiences of LGBTQI+ employees here. This new Inclusive Business Charter will provide practical training and guidance to companies, enabling staff and employers to better understand the issues facing LGBTQI+ employees. I am pleased my Department has been able to support this important initiative which will help create more inclusive and diverse workforces.”
Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland Director, The National Lottery Community Fund, said:
“We are delighted to be working with the Department of Finance to deliver the Dormant Accounts Fund NI, which is helping to support the long-term future of Cara-Friend through a recent grant award. Our congratulations to them on the launch of their LGBTQI+ Inclusive Business Charter, in partnership with Danske Bank, to help develop more inclusive workplaces across Northern Ireland.”