Tag: Staff Networks

LGBT History Month – The Importance of Role Models

Having visible LGBT role models can have a transformative impact on creating a truly inclusive workplace and society.

Stonewall’s guide, Role Models: Being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender in Wales, features inspirational stories from a diverse range of people from different backgrounds working in different areas. You will recognise a couple of them!

Stonewall have also published LGBT voices, a collection of personal stories from LGBT people who have lived through inequalities and experiences rarely reflected on television, in books, in films or in schools.

It is of course important to note that different LGBT groups will have different role models. The Pride Power List 2016 contains a diverse selection of LGBT role models: male, female, non-binary, trans, disabled, Black, Asian, people of faith, older people, and people from a range of backgrounds and careers.

Here, some members of our LGBT workplace network explain why role models are important to them:

“The people I have a lot of respect for are the people who are prepared to go that one step further and put their head above the parapet and challenge the status quo. You shouldn’t underestimate the impact that visibility makes to people. It makes a difference to people when it’s not abstract anymore. There are still a lot of stereotypical ideas so a diverse range of role models is important. I want to be part of creating a modern Wales, a Wales that’s representative.” Hannah Blythyn, AM

“It’s important to have diverse role models; one person is not the totality of gay experience.” Rhys Morgan, Translation and Reporting Service

“It’s very important that there are visible LGBT people within the organisation, that people see that being from a minority group hasn’t hindered peoples’ ability to reach senior levels. We have young people who say it took three years to come out in their previous organisation and three weeks here. If you’ve reached a position of success, if you can inspire someone else, if you can lead by example, you should.” Craig Stephenson, Director of Commission Services and Co-Chair of OUT-NAW

“I think role models help show that it is ok to be you.  They show you that there should be no limits on who you can be and what you can achieve.  The more role models there are and the more diversity they represent, the more we can break down barriers and challenge misconceptions.” Lisa Bowkett, Head of Finance and Co-Chair of OUT-NAW.

Pride Cymru 2016

Blog by co-chairs of OUT-NAW, the National Assembly for Wales’ LGBT workplace network.

Wow, didn’t Wales put on an excellent display of LGBT diversity and inclusion for this year’s Pride Cymru weekend? With charity cycle rides, a rugby 7s tournament, venues hosting LGBT choirs, rainbow flags all over the city, a huge parade through Cardiff city centre and, once again, this was followed by the main event at Cooper’s Field.  Year on year, Pride Cymru gets bigger and better and we’re extremely proud to be part of the celebration which has clearly developed into one of Cardiff’s annual signature events.

As most people in Wales would expect, the National Assembly played its part once again. In addition to taking our outreach bus to Cooper’s field and flying the rainbow flags across our estate, this year we were delighted to be able to illuminate the Senedd with rainbow colours throughout the weekend.

We also took part in the parade for the first time. Joined by network members, Allies, role models, Management Board members, partners and family members, we couldn’t have expected more support. One of the first to volunteer was a huge advocate for equality and diversity, our Chief Executive, Claire Clancy.  We were all proud to stand shoulder to shoulder on the parade to show our commitment to the creation of a safe, fair and inclusive Wales.

NAfW at Pride
OUT-NAW members at the Pride Cymru march
Pride Banner etc
OUT-NAW members and the public enjoying the Pride Cymru march

Of course, our contribution on Cooper’s Field had to link back to democracy but this year we made it much more fun. Lots of people posed for photographs in our Senedd selfie frame which we tweeted throughout the day.  We were delighted to see new network member, Hannah Blythyn AM, before she spoke on the main stage.  In addition to our #KnowYourAM campaign and the consultation for our new diversity plan, many young people enthusiastically took part in the Children, Young People and Education Committee’s consultation on youth work.  Their views will feed into the Committee’s consideration and is exactly what our youth engagement strategy is designed to do – place young people’s views at the heart of the Assembly’s considerations.

Iestyn on bus
Young people taking part in the Youth Work inquiry

As Stonewall’s best public sector LGBT-inclusive workplace in Wales and third best organisation in the UK, we have assisted organisations in Wales and beyond with advice, resources, coaching and mentoring once again. That is what we should do to help create more and more inclusive workplaces where LGBT staff can be themselves and it’s important to us that we continue to do that. Of note this year is that a number of approaches have been made from beyond Wales’ border. We think it’s pretty exciting that others are taking notice of what Wales is doing and we’re always happy to help those who are trying to enter or improve their performance in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

What has been different this year is the development of our networks beyond the expected. Members of OUT-NAW, our LGBT workplace network, are now using their skills and experience to help others. Whether that’s with the Scouts who now have a presence at Pride Cymru through the efforts of one of our network members, one of our Allies joining the board of trustees for Chwarae Teg, LGBT committees at the Law Society or national unions, through to making links to the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus’ (SWGMC) charity work. Three members of OUT-NAW volunteer with Out and Proud, a project for LGBT+ young people in South Wales.  Hearing about the work of Out and Proud, realising that they operate on a shoe-string and couldn’t survive without willing volunteers, we decided to take action by using our own social connections and they are now the beneficiaries as the SWGMC’s nominated charity.

Making that link between our various networks has seen a wider benefit to the LGBT community and that is something to be very proud of. The young people themselves feel they’re supported not only by our volunteers but by the wider LGBT community too.  It was wonderful and moving to see them empowered to speak about their gender and sexuality issues at a recent South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus concert where hundreds of pounds were raised.  Equally inspiring was seeing them at the Assembly’s outreach bus during Pride Cymru and taking part in democratic processes through our consultation on youth services.  We need young people to feed their views into the heart of Welsh democracy and doing so from a minority viewpoint is so important.  After all, the Assembly represents all the communities of Wales so a diversity of views helps create a full and rounded picture of the issues under consideration.

So this brings us to the end of a busy year for OUT-NAW. While we are delighted to have introduced gender-neutral toilets for staff and visitors across our estate in Cardiff Bay this year, there is always more to do to help shape an inclusive democracy.  We take that responsibility seriously and we’re looking forward to the year ahead.

For another fantastic year, we would like to take this opportunity to thank OUT-NAW members, our Allies, the Assembly’s political leadership, our Management Board and the Diversity and Inclusion team, particularly Ross Davies for his drive, determination, skills and experience of LGBT diversity. He is a constant source of advice and guidance, ensuring that we take the right steps towards a more inclusive workplace.

Jayelle Robinson-Larkin and Craig Stephenson

Cyd-Gadeiryddion / Co-Chairs

OUT NAW logo
Out-Naw logo

View this post in Welsh

Betty Campbell MBE addresses Assembly staff as part of Diversity and Inclusion week

The National Assembly for Wales is committed to promoting and supporting an inclusive workplace, where difference is celebrated and valued.

The Diversity and Inclusion team here at the Assembly regularly organises events in order to raise awareness and generate discussion around issues, and Diversity and Inclusion week is something we participate in every year.

Betty Campbell photo
Picture of Betty Campbell

On 8 July 2016 Betty Campbell (MBE) was invited to speak to staff at the Assembly by its INSPIRE Women’s network, and REACH (Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage) Black Minority Ethnic network.

The networks invited Betty to the Assembly as part of a joint network initiative, so they could hear her inspirational story in her own words. Despite being told as a young girl that achieving her dream of becoming a teacher “would be insurmountable”, she wasn’t deterred and overcame many barriers to become the first black head teacher in Wales during the 1970s.

She remains a respected member of the Butetown community, where she held the position of Head at Mount Stuart Primary school, and is now recognised as an academic and important authority on education.

Betty is truly a role model for both black people and women, which is why both our INSPIRE and REACH staff networks felt privileged to have the chance to hear her story in person. The opportunity to ask Betty questions was particularly popular, in fact we had so many questions that we ran out of time for Betty to answer them.

We were lucky enough to record an interview with Betty during her visit to the Assembly, so you can share her story too.

Here is her story, in her own words: what inspired her; what helped her achieve her goals; her inspiration to others facing similar barriers and her advice to people facing their own obstacles.

Further information

Proud to be marching with the Assembly at Pride Cymru

by Claire Clancy, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly

Photograph of Claire Clancy wearing a rainbow garland to prepare for Pride Cymru
Claire Clancy preparing for Pride Cymru

This Saturday I will be joining members and fellow allies of OUT-NAW, our LGBT workplace network, in marching in the Pride Cymru parade through Cardiff. Although we have been attending Pride for many years, this is the first time that the Assembly has been part of the parade and I am delighted to be joining colleagues in promoting and encouraging LGBT equality.

I think it is important that the Assembly is represented at events such as this to show that we are committed to being an inclusive organisation. We are very proud of our success in the Stonewall Workplace Index, where we have been ranked as the third best LGBT-inclusive organisation in the UK.

I will be joined in the parade by other members of the Management Board as well as staff from across the organisation.

If you are in the city centre, please wave and support us. Also, if you are attending Pride don’t forget to visit the Assembly Outreach bus.

I would also like to wish the Assembly’s rugby team good luck in the Enfys 7’s LGBT-inclusive tournament this weekend. I’m sure they would be grateful of your support this weekend too.

The Llywydd’s press release provides more information on our Pride Cymru celebrations.

Diversity and Inclusion Week – Workplace Equality Networks By Abi Lasebikan, Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Network Coordinator

By Abi Lasebikan, Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Network Coordinator

What are Workplace Equality Networks (WENs)?

As Network Coordinator I see the WENs as a place for people who identify with a protected characteristic group and/or have an interest in matters relating to a particular diversity strand (i.e. gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, religion/belief, age, pregnancy/maternity, sex, marriage/civil partnership and disability), to come together to:

  • give and receive pastoral care;
  • share information relating to equality; promote equality issues related to their group;
  • access learning opportunities to build skills that will help individuals develop personally as well as in their career, and
  • act as critical agents for change within the organisation.

Who are the WENs open to?

The networks are open to all Assembly Members, AMSS, Commission staff and employees of our on-site contractors to join as either members or as allies, as they recognise that anyone, not only those directly affected, can have an interest in a particular equality issue. This interest can exist for many reasons, including because of a connection to someone who is affected e.g. a child, spouse or relative or because of the belief it’s ‘the right thing’. Allies are welcome because to achieve real Diversity and Inclusion requires a collective effort involving everyone.

What are the benefits of the WENs for the individual?

For an individual the networks can:

  • Provide informal peer support and advice.
  • Offer a platform for discussing issues affecting members of the networks.
  • Enhance career development and progression for staff, through various programmes, including mentoring opportunities.
  • Present networking opportunities.
  • Give members the chance to identify and advise the Assembly Commission on the issues which affect staff, through impact assessment of policies.

What are the benefits of the WENs for the organisation?

Because of their access and insight these networks can help us to:

  • Understand the value in managing and harnessing the potential of an increasingly diverse workforce.
  • Recruit and retain the most talented people.
  • Provide the best service to stakeholders.
  • Make a positive difference to the working culture of the Assembly.

They do this because the collective intelligence of the WENs:

  • Make it possible for us to understand what it is like to work in that environment from the perspective of the members.
  • Enable us to understand our diverse service users.
  • Serve as effective consultative and advisory bodies on diversity related matters.

The networks input leads to better policies and procedures which means happier employees who can be themselves, resulting in an organisation that performs better and is therefore better able to attract and retain top talent.

The Assembly recognises that the networks are instrumental to the organisation in its aim to achieve a safe, inclusive and diverse working environment for all. It supports the networks and would encourage all Assembly Members, Assembly Member Support Staff (AMSS), Commission staff and employees of our on-site contractors to support and enable their staff to participate in and engage with network activities.

Our current networks are:

EMBRACE LOGOEMBRACE – our disability network. It is open to disabled people, those who support disabled people and people with an interest in disability equality. Within EMBRACE are subsidiary dyslexia and chronic pain groups. Chaired by Abi Phillips

 

INSPIRE logoINSPIRE – our women’s network. It’s open to both men and women. Co-chaired by Sarah Crosbie and Janette Iliffe

 

 

OUT NAW logo OUT-NAW – our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and    Transgender (LGBT) network. It is a closed group for LGBT people, it is open to LGBT people as members and people with an interest in LGBT equality as allies. Co-chaired by Craig Stephenson  and  Jayelle Robinson-Larkin

TEULU logo

TEULU – our Working Parent and Carer network, is currently a virtual network that operates mainly online.  New network members and network allies are always welcome. Co-chaired by Holly Pembridge and Joel Steed

REACH logo

REACH – The Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage network is our Black Minority Ethnic (BME) network. It is open to BME people as members and people who support race equality as allies. Co-chaired by Abi Lasebikan and Raz Roap

 

The Networks have contributed to and raised the profile of the organisation in a variety of ways. They have:

  • Input into many impact assessment of policies and projects, such as the Accessible Car Parking policy, Human Resources Priority Postings policy, EFM refurbishments projects, etc.
  • Attended events, like: Pride and Sparkle, Stonewall Cymru’s Workplace Equality Index Awards, All Wales Annual Race Equality Conference, Mela, etc.
  • Participated in community incentives, like collecting for the Cardiff Foodbank.
  • Produced a range of blogs, factsheets and guidance on a variety of topics, such as: Ramadan, Cultural Diversity, Invisible Disabilities, Bisexual Awareness, Mental Health, etc.
  • Worked closely with other public sector organisations, such as Gwent and South Wales Police, Welsh Government, Cardiff University, to promote diversity and inclusion.

That is just a flavour of the impressive achievements of the networks. Further information on the networks can be found at: http://members/networks.

Championing the WENs

A senior champion is someone who openly supports the WENs at the highest level of the organisation. They are vocal about the achievements of the network and how it benefits the organisation as well as willing to lend the weight of their leadership to the network. I am pleased to say that both Dave Tosh and Craig Stephenson are not only champions for BME and LGBT issues respectively but have agreed to champion equality issues as a whole on the Management Board.

“As the BME Champion I can act as a voice, at Director level, and work with the network to help support our BME staff to address some of the issues affecting them”. Dave Tosh, Director of Resources and BME Champion

The Champions can also be a beacon to others that the organisation is truly an inclusive organisation that recognises talent, irrespective of whether the person belongs to a protected characteristic group.

“It’s very important that there are visible LGBT people at all levels within the organisation, and also that people see that being from a minority group hasn’t hindered peoples’ ability to reach more senior levels. Personally, I think that if you have reached a position which gives you visibility, and if you can inspire someone else, if you can lead by example, you should.” Craig Stephenson

Not every disability is visible – ‘Invisible disabilities’

Not every disability is visible image
Image of person with shadow of a person in a wheelchair, with caption ‘Not every disability is visible.’

When people think of disabilities they think of someone in a wheelchair when in fact, according to the English federation of Disability Sport in 2014 there are only around 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK, roughly 2% of UK population. The reality is a person doesn’t always ‘look’ ill when they’re dealing with a health issue. Despite popular belief the majority of impairments are not visible. Out of the millions of disabled people living in the UK, only a small percentage have illnesses that can actually be seen. These people are living with an invisible disability.

 

What is meant by invisible disability

Not all disabilities look like this image
Image of person and person in a wheelchair with caption ‘Not all disabilities look like this. Some disabilities look like this.’

Invisible disabilities refers to a wide range of conditions and illnesses that are not immediately apparent or visible, and therefore obvious. They include: cognitive dysfunctions; brain injuries; learning difficulties; epilepsy; cancer; diabetes, sickle cell, fibromyalgia; HIV; Aids; gastrointestinal problems; myalgic encephalopathy or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME); mental health conditions, as well as hearing and visual impairments, to name a few. It is worth noting that someone who has a visible impairment or uses an assistive device such as a wheelchair, walker or cane can also have invisible disabilities, for example a person in a wheelchair may also have a mental health condition.

 

What are the challenges of living with an invisible disability

Like any disabled person a person living with an invisible disability faces stigma, exclusion and discrimination and the constant task of challenging misconceptions about their conditions. However, people with invisible disabilities may not always experience discrimination in the same way as someone with a noticeable disability. They can also face obstacles such as being accused of misusing accessible toilets, disabled parking spaces, and other facilities.

“When somebody doesn’t look ill, it’s easy to make the assumption that they’re lazy or mean or not thinking of others. But when I go to the accessible toilets it’s because I have my ostomy bag and I do need a bit more space and running water.” Sam Cleasby, Disability Campaigner

A person with an invisible disability has a right not to be made to explain their illness to a stranger. We need to understand that for many, using accessible toilets or disabled parking spaces is not a luxury or privilege. It’s a necessity in order for them to lead their lives.

Those who judge are undoubtedly not doing it out of malice, but from a genuine desire to and belief that they’re defending the rights of people who are genuinely in need. But even if that assumption comes from a place of kindness it is best not to make assumptions. You might think you’re doing the right thing, but you could be making it worse for somebody already struggling.

Invisible Disabilities and the National Assembly for Wales

As an employer we recognise that, according to NOMIS’s Annual Population Survey March 2013, 20.8% of the working age population in the UK (8.3 million people) had a disability. We understand that encouraging applications from disabled people is good for business. It can help us to:

  • increase the number of high quality applicants available;
  • create a workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers we serve and the community in which we are based, and
  • bring additional skills to the business, such as the ability to use British Sign Language (BSL), which could result in large savings. The costs of making reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled employees are often low. The benefits of retaining an experienced, skilled employee who has acquired an impairment are usually greater than recruiting and training new staff. It is also good for the individual.

That is why as an employer, the Assembly is committed to promoting equality of opportunity for Commission staff, Assembly Members and their staff and the people of Wales. We strive to be an inclusive organisation that values everyone that works here, their diverse perspectives, skillsets and range of backgrounds. To that end we are proud to have:

  • A range of facilities on site to ensure that we are an accessible organization: including a range of different toilet facilities such as gender neutral toilets, accessible toilets, a Changing Places facility with adult hoist, and toilets for people with mobility issues. To find out more about our accessible facilities, visit Euan’s Guide, the disabled access review website.
  • Great policies, such as flexible working, including career break, part-time working, job share, term time working, condensed hours working and special leave.

    positive about disabled people
    Positive about disabled people tick logo
  • Signed up to the ‘Positive about Disability’ scheme. A scheme that demonstrates to people that we are positive about employing and retaining disabled people. As part of the scheme we have committed to the two tick guaranteed interview scheme. Guarantying an interview to people with disabilities if they meet the essential requirements for the position.
  • Workplace equality networks within the Assembly open to Assembly Commission staff, Assembly Members and their staff, including EMBRACE – our disability network. These networks provide: informal peer support and advice on diversity, inclusion and equality issues and share information related to equality; promote equality issues related to their group; enhance career development and progression for staff, including mentoring opportunities; and identify issues which affect staff, including advising the Assembly Commission on issues which affect staff through impact assessment of policies.

    Embrace logo image
    Embrace disability network of the National Assembly for Wales logo
  • Health, Safety and Wellbeing and Occupational Health teams, which offer a wide range of services to assist employees in managing their health and well-being. This includes assisting staff returning to work after periods of absence and counselling and support services through the Employee Assistance Programme.

Top things to remember about invisible disabilities:

  • Not everyone with a disability uses a wheelchair or has a physical disability.
  • Many people with invisible disabilities experience, on a daily basis, judgment over using facilities such as accessible toilets and disabled parking spaces, because people cannot see their illness. Don’t make assumptions and never be confrontational or aggressive.
  • They don’t and shouldn’t be made to explain themselves to strangers.
  • With the right support many disabled people are able and willing to work.

Assembly shines at Sparkle

By Kelly Harris, Youth Engagement Officer

On Saturday 7 November, myself and Craig Stephenson, Assembly Director and Chair of our LGBT staff network, took a stall to Swansea Sparkle to talk to the public about the work of the Assembly and how they could become involved.

Swansea Sparkle was organised by Tawe Butterflies and South Wales Police, which provided an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate equality and diversity. The aim was to break down barriers between the public and the Transgender community by bringing organisations from across Wales and the U.K. together to showcase the support, information and advice available to the community.

It was a really interesting day and we had lots of interest about the Assembly. Many people were unaware that they had five Assembly Members whose job it is to represent them in the Assembly, so it was the perfect opportunity to provide them with our Explore the Assembly: Your Assembly Member Guide and chat with them about what issues they might face in their communities. Two Assembly Members came to the stall to say hello and have their picture taken with us – Julie James (Swansea West Constituency) and Peter Black (South West Wales Regional) – it was great to have their support at the event.

Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to a young person who is currently transitioning. I felt very honoured that they shared their story with me, and it was interesting to hear their experiences – both the happy and the sad parts. There have been big steps taken to make sure that the voices of the Transgender community are heard, but it is very clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. I took the time to make sure that the young person knew of all the different ways they could become involved in the work of the Assembly, even down to how hard the Assembly works to make sure our workforce is diverse and fully representative of Welsh communities. It was great to get their feedback on what else they thought the Assembly could work on, which will be fed back to our excellent Equality Team.

I also explained about who the Children’s Commissioner for Wales is and what their job is, so that if they felt they needed someone to help them in the future, they have someone else they can contact. It is important for all young people in Wales to know about the Children’s Commissioner.

Overall it was an excellent day – well organised and very welcoming! I can’t wait to go back next year!

Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall's No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge
Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall’s No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge