A leading charity for lesbian, gay and bisexual people has named the Home Office employer of the year for 2011.
Coming top of the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2011 of private, public and third sector is recognition of the Home Office’s drive to create an environment in which people feel they can be open about their sexuality.
In its citation Stonewall said the Home Office ‘understands the importance of truly embedding equality and diversity into everything it does’.
Permanent secretary Helen Ghosh said: ‘It is essential that the Home Office represents and understands the communities we serve. With all the challenges that face us, we have to make sure we retain talented staff and help them perform to their full potential.
‘That is why I am so pleased that this department has won this significant award.’
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, added: ‘I am delighted the Home Office is being celebrated as an employer which supports the diversity of its staff.
‘This government will continue to do all it can to tackle discrimination and help make this country a more tolerant and fair place for everybody.’
Special mention was given to the department’s staff network, Spectrum.
Stonewall said it reaches staff from across the UK effectively, and applauded its awareness campaign to address the lack of visible gay and bisexual women in the workplace.
The Home Office was commended for accepting Stonewall’s recommendations in new training for asylum caseworkers on how to deal appropriately and sensitively with the claims of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
Praise was also given for the department’s support to the ‘Blow the Whistle on Gay Hate’ campaign which encourages victims of homophobic hate crime to come forward and report incidents to the police.