19 February 2016
As part of LGBT History Month, we’re highlighting the stories of LGB* civil servants. Stephen Foreshew-Cain is the Executive Director of the Government Digital Service – part of the Cabinet Office. He writes about how the Civil Service has a lot to be proud of on LGBT diversity.
This month is LGBT History Month. LGBT History Month happens each year in February. It’s a chance to reflect on the positive contributions that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people make to our society, and to promote diversity and inclusion.
The theme this year for LGBT History month is “religion, belief and faith”. It’s a great theme to highlight. It reminds me that despite our differences – whether they be of faith or sexuality, race, gender or background – our diversity makes us stronger. That’s evident through the progress we’ve made as a country and as a Civil Service over the years.
This year’s theme is intensely personal for me. I married my husband, an incredibly dedicated and caring parish priest, a year and a half ago. As the Church of England’s official stance on our marriage is less than Christian I think I could be forgiven for despairing of the role of religion in my life. But I don’t despair. His congregation and the wider network of Inclusive Churches (who believe in a church which does not discriminate, on any level) have been amazingly supportive. Although not religious myself, their generosity and welcome have restored my faith in people of faith. It also makes me thankful to work in an organisation where diversity and inclusion is valued and indeed championed.
We shouldn’t forget to celebrate that the UK has come a long way on LGBT equality; and civil servants have been at the forefront of this work.
Together, we’ve supported the introduction of marriage equality legislation, ensured fair treatment in the workplace and in the sale of goods and services, and much more. We are some of the most open and inclusive organisations in the country for LGBT staff.
As the Cabinet Office SCS LGBT Diversity Champion, helping to make the Civil Service one of the most inclusive and diverse organisations in government is something I care passionately about; and I know that sentiment is shared at every level of the Civil Service. Improving diversity is something we’re actively discussing in the Cabinet Office, building on the excellent work we already do as a department.
I want to particularly highlight the great work our diversity networks do at times like this. This year, members of the Cabinet Office LGBT network have done a great job in leading our bid to Stonewall for the Workplace Equality Index. Their hard work is making Cabinet Office a better place to work for LGBT people.
For LGBT History Month, the Cabinet Office network is running a lecture on ‘Religion, Belief and Philosophy’, together with Parliament’s network, ParliOUT. It’s on 26 February at 18:00 – 19:30. If you’d like to attend, please register on Eventbrite.