Unit 203 Maling Exchange Hoults Yard Walker Road Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne NE6 2HL

Opencast loud and proud for Pride

Lorna Madden

June is Pride month, celebrating and supporting LGBTQ+ communities everywhere. Opencast head of recruitment Lorna Madden explains our commitment.  

As a business, Opencast is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion across our work. To drive this effort, we have an internal inclusive change group that focuses on removing barriers of all kinds to people from all communities. 

As part of our commitment, we are proud to be part of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme – the leading employers’ programme in the UK for ensuring workplaces are truly inclusive. 

The Stonewall charity is named after the New York gay bar where in 1969 riots marked a turning point for what was then called the ‘gay liberation’ movement – but which was broader as it included working-class, trans and lesbian women of colour.  

Defiance against police raids on the bar symbolised the fightback against laws that made consensual sexual relations between men and between women illegal and excluded gay people and other LGBTQ+ people from jobs in many sectors including government. Learn more about the Stonewall uprising and the trans people who were involved

Gay power marches followed that effectively turned into the annual Pride month that we see today, and the Gay Liberation Front followed, demanding sexual liberation, reproductive rights and economic freedom. In 1970 a GLF was established in London and the Pride movement became global. 

UK LGBT rights came to prominence following the 1967 decriminalisation of sexual activity between men in England and Wales – though it took until 2006 for equalities legislation to come into force and 2010 until the Equality Act extended the ban on discrimination against gays and lesbians. 

As the movement has grown, a wider definition has emerged beyond ‘gay and lesbian’, so that the ‘LGBTQ+’ term used today covers a wider group – lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer, with the ‘+’ a symbol meaning ‘and others’ to include people of all identities. 

Technology has helped ensure significant progress in helping members of LGBTQ+ communities to assert their right to self-expression and equal rights in employment. Social media has helped to amplify and effect progressive change. And tools from dating apps to online communities have provided a platform for LGBTQ+ people to connect and campaign. 

Yet despite the huge progress and legal change, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people continues, particularly in the workplace, and in processes like job interviews and job descriptions. Inclusion is not yet a given. 

At Opencast we are working hard to become a more inclusive employer, including for LGBTQ+ people. We agree with Stonewall that ”inclusion drives better individual, business and organisational outcomes”. This thinking informed our decision last year to join the 850+ organisations creating LGBTQ+ inclusive workplaces as Stonewall champions.  

We want all our employees to feel welcome, respected and represented in the workplace. Most recently, we have reviewed the inclusion statements that go with our recruitment advertising and also at our employment policies, including a new transitioning policy and an updated dignity at work policy. 

Two other initiatives demonstrate our support for LGBTQ+ communities.  

Through our charitable giving programme, we have shown support for North East based charity the Albert Kennedy Trust to provide support, advice and guidance to young people aged 16-25 who are LGBTQ+ and who are homeless or in housing need. AKT is among the beneficiaries of Opencast’s 2021 £50,000 charitable donation via the Community Foundation. 

Finally, our inclusive change group suggests that staff use a new feature from business social network LinkedIn that allows them to add she/her, he/him, they/them pronouns to their LI profiles to help show their support for the LGBTQ+ community.  

Opencast will continue its support for LGBTQ+ communities in its work in the year ahead, to demonstrate that we are making real change to our working culture and hiring processes, putting money where our mouth is on community support – and showing that we are making genuine progress in ensuring the company is a more inclusive place to work for all. 

Stonewall blog: Pride is still a protest – so let’s speak up

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