Hi, my name is Lucy Bastock and I chair the LGBT+ network group at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust where my “day job” is in the People Services team for our organisation of 4,500 people.
Our network group to help support our Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans plus other (LGBT+) identifying staff has been formally recognised since 2015. (I’ve chaired since Oct 2018). The group is open to allies too and although we have struggled with membership in previous years we do seem to be growing in strength with renewed commitment from our Board and senior team to support inclusion for anyone with any protected characteristics.
This is part of our trust’s determination to really focus on how we can improve people’s experience of being able to “bring their whole self” to work, or of feeling comfortable being a patient, service user or visitor to our services regardless of any personal characteristics.
The LGBT+ staff network group (and those for staff with long-term conditions and BME staff) are all strongly supported by the executive team, meeting regularly to update on progress. In 2019 each network group gained an executive sponsor which has really helped raise the profile. Our executive sponsor regularly attends the network meetings and has completed our reverse mentoring programme, which is designed to promote insight into someone else’s lived experience. He is a fantastic high-profile ally. He was recently filmed, talking about his reasons for being involved in the network group and giving voice to the importance of creating an environment where everyone feels safe to be themselves.
Our network group has its own Twitter feed which is growing our engagement and visibility amongst staff and enabling us to share what we are doing. This is all aligned to our corporate comms channels too. We help to co-ordinate work stream across the trust to provide support and a more welcoming environment for staff and service users. Recent initiatives to increase LGBT+ visibility and promote our organisation as a welcoming, inclusive trust include rainbow window stickers, rainbow NHS lanyards, and most recently the NHS rainbow badges. We include the Stonewall logo on all job adverts.
As a community trust we have geographical challenges and over 200 sites to work across and provide a wide range of services which brings a diverse wealth of people and considerations through our doors. The network for example has been asked to signpost to support for our ageing LGBT+ community in care homes, along with how to ensure the safeguarding services are welcoming and supporting work with the clinical effectiveness team in developing materials to capture sexual orientation monitoring of our patients.
Pride events in Derbyshire have increased in popularity in recent years and we have a stall at each of these annually to help show our support for the wider community. These events have been well attended by the public and it feels important to be present to demonstrate our organisation’s commitment to LGBT+ and inclusion generally. Last year was the first Belper Pride, which will be running again this year in this small Derbyshire town which has the added honour of being voted ‘Britain’s Best High Street’ 2019.
We introduced a reverse mentoring programme in 2019, starting with the most senior people in the organisation who were paired up with a junior mentor with protected characteristics, to help gain insight into what it is like for them to work in the organisation. This has been really successful and well received and we are just looking to move to a second wave.
Why are we doing all this?
In order for staff to be happy at work you need to bring your whole self. This can feel very difficult for some colleagues from the LGBT+ community as not everyone feels safe to be open for a variety of reasons. This could include previous experiences outside of work, unsupportive families, homophobic jokes that go unchallenged, noticing staff who don’t wear a rainbow lanyard, and colleagues assuming you are in a heterosexual relationship. This can lead to people tripping over pronouns when explain what they did at the weekend, avoiding social events and trying to hide ‘the signs’. This is energy sapping.
How can you help create an inclusive environment?
Be aware of the language you are using in the office, changing boyfriend, girlfriend /husband/ wife to partner, challenge that inappropriate language, and build an overall welcoming environment for all. Small acts can make a huge difference.
Lucy Bastock, LGBT+ Network Chair (DCHS)