Completing the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index

Last year, I wrote about working for an organisation that has been rated one of the most LGBT+ friendly organisations in the country. It was the first time the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) had placed in the Top 100 Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. Staying in the Top 100 isn’t as simple as carrying on doing the same thing; in fact, it’s probably harder to retain a position in the index than getting into it!

As part of my personal development, I was given the objective of leading and completing the NHSBSA’s submission for 2020 and retain our placement in Stonewall’s Top 100. No pressure then…

The submission for the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index is an annual cycle which runs from September to the end of August. It’s a long process that really tests and minutely examines the work an organisation does. It’s so tough, in fact, that at one point I compared it to walking barefoot on hot coals while carrying a Ming vase!

It all started with the results from our last submission, which included a report detailing our scores. These were explained by a Stonewall representative who offered advice on how we could improve our score for the next index submission. We combined this feedback with our current plans for our Diversity and Inclusion Colleague Network, who would be carrying out most of the work that would form the NHSBSA’s 2020 index submission.

Speaking of the D&I Network; I can’t stress enough how instrumental they were to our submission. Their passion and commitment never wavered and I’m proud to work alongside such a dedicated group of colleagues.

Our next challenge was the Stonewall Staff Survey, which ran from June till early September. Stonewall score the survey responses, but a significant amount of marks are allocated based on survey completion rate. An incredibly high-scoring submission could still miss out on the Top 100 due to low completion rates. You’re also not told how many people have completed the survey while it’s running, so you really have to pull out all the stops to get staff engaged.

We made sure colleagues across every location and team knew what the survey was and why it was important to developing an inclusive culture at the NHSBSA. Again, we couldn’t have accomplished this without the help of our network members.

Then came our final submission for the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, consisting of 62 questions spread out over 10 sections, including workplace policies and procedures, work-life, network activities, management support and community, and third party interactions. It’s not a quick submission, taking approximately 60 hours to write, revise, and gather evidence before we’re finally happy with our answers.

Gathering evidence for our submission gave me insight into the immense amount of work that every team across the NHSBSA does to support our colleagues who identify as LGBT+. It was great to see our colleagues’ commitment to providing a work environment where everyone is able to be their authentic selves.

To say all our hard work paid off would be an understatement. The NHSBSA is now ranked 51st in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index out of thousands of companies in the UK. I’d have been happy moving up just five places from our original 88th position, but to leap to 51st and to be the highest climbing employer in the top 100 is something very special indeed.

But it’s not all about rankings. The most pleasing aspect for me was the feedback we received from Stonewall which said that our submission had a strong human emphasis throughout – something I really wanted to demonstrate. Being in the Top 100 is a fantastic accolade and a great badge of honour for our organisation. Our LGBT+ awareness work is fundamentally about our people, colleagues, customers, clients, and members of the communities we serve.