Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers 2019: Law firm & universities lead LGBT-inclusive list

International law firm Pinsent Masons have been named the most inclusive employer in the UK by lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity Stonewall in its Top 100 Employers list for 2019.

Regarded as the leading list in the UK for ranking employers from across the public, private and third sectors on their inclusivity, this year’s Top 100 list saw more entrants than ever with 445 employers from across different sectors vying for a coveted spot in the list.

Representing nearly a fifth of the list, the higher education sector was noted as having one of the most significant rises. Altogether, 18 higher education organisations, including universities, made the top 100.

Cardiff University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Swansea University and The University of Sheffield were all listed amongst the top trans-inclusive list, alongside Baker McKenzie, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, and Citi.

“We have a responsibility to champion change in the wider community”

Making the top of the list, Pinsent Masons were the first employer in the legal sector to work with Stonewall. The firm demonstrated a range of inclusive policies and practices for lesbian, gay and bi staff, and has introduced specific trans-inclusive staff training to create a welcoming environment for trans colleagues, clients and visitors.

Pinsent Masons have also been actively involved in championing LGBT equality across the UK, including supporting the campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland and working with school partners to build inclusive learning environments for young people.

Richard Foley, Senior Partner, Pinsent Masons, said: “This is a very special achievement for us. It isn’t about reaching the top spot; it’s about what the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index stands for and what everyone engaged in it is working so hard to accomplish.

“We have a responsibility to champion change in the wider community. Supporting initiatives such as the campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland play an important role in prompting progress on the equality issues that we believe must be addressed.

“We are also confident that our ongoing work with our Family Support Network and work with our school partners will help create safe and inclusive learning environments to ensure that future generations are guaranteed a discrimination-free start in life,” Foley added.

Pinsent Masons had previously been named by Stonewall as one of the top global employers for 2018.

Cardiff University was top of the class in higher education organisations

As higher education organisations dominated this year’s Top 100, Cardiff University came top of the class at number 11. The sector’s strong performance was buoyed by seven new entries to the Top 100, including six universities such as the University of South Wales (43) and the University of Brighton (72).

Cardiff University (Photo credit: Stan Zurek)
Cardiff University (Photo credit: Stan Zurek)

Higher education’s strong commitment to LGBT inclusion is a powerful positive symbol of the progress being made towards equality. Stonewall’s 2018 University Report shows why this work is needed with two in five LGBT students (42 per cent) saying they’ve hidden their identity while at university for fear of discrimination.

Going above and beyond to ensure trans staff feel accepted

Stonewall gave special commendation to the UK’s top-trans inclusive employers, including Pinsent Masons, Victim Support, Skills Development Scotland and the National Assembly for Wales. The list specifically highlights employers who have gone above and beyond to ensure trans staff feel accepted.

Pride in London parade takes place in Westminster, London. (Photo: Dave Nash)

This comes as trans people continue to face worrying levels of abuse in both their private lives and in the public sphere. Shockingly, one in eight trans employees (12 per cent) have been physically attacked by a colleague or customer in the last year.

Citi was also named as one of the top trans-inclusive employers and was also the recipient of the first bi-inclusive workplace award. The financial services company recently launched a suite of Transitioning at Work Guidance documents which aim to support trans colleagues, their managers and their colleagues with transitioning at work.

In addition, the level of cover under the UK Bupa Private Medical Insurance programme to support Gender Dysphoria treatment was increased by Citi, making it the leading name to offer this level of support to trans colleagues.

“I am incredibly proud of the conscious effort we have made to acknowledge the specific inclusion issues that relate to our bi and trans colleagues across the UK. To be named Stonewall’s first Bi-Inclusive Employer and included in the Top Trans-Inclusive Employers – in addition to our Top 10 ranking – is an honour and a great reflection on the hard work of our internal advocates and Proud Allies,” said Bob Annibale, Global Head of Inclusive Finance and Community Development and global co-lead of Citi’s Pride Affinity.

“We promise to continue to campaign for equality for our bi, trans, lesbian and gay colleagues, clients and customers around the world.”

“I am proud of what we have done in the Department for Education”

Each year, Stonewall also names individuals and groups who have made an outstanding contribution to LGBT inclusion in their workplace. Senior Champion of the Year was awarded to Jonathan Slater, the Department for Education’s Permanent Secretary.

Jonathan Slater meets with Stonewall's Ruth Hunt. (Photo credit: Twitter/@PermSecDfE)
Jonathan Slater meets with Stonewall’s Ruth Hunt. (Photo credit: Twitter/@PermSecDfE)

Jonathan Slater, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to have won the Stonewall Senior Champion of the Year award. I am proud of what we have done in the Department for Education and am very grateful for the dedication and support of the LGBT+ network, my leadership team, and individuals in the Department who have gone above and beyond to make it an inclusive place to work.

“There’s plenty more to do, and I will keep championing the rights of staff to be themselves,” Slater added.

The list “sends a really positive message for the future”

Last year, Stonewall released research that showed more than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) have hidden they are LGBT at work and almost one in five LGBT employees (18 per cent) have been the target of negative comments from colleagues because of their identity.

Darren Towers, Stonewall’s Executive Director, said: “Stonewall was set up 30 years ago to fight against the introduction of Section 28 – a vicious piece of legislation that banned local authorities from ‘promoting homosexuality’. To now see higher education institutions dominating the Top 100 for the first time shows not just how far we’ve come, but also sends a really positive message for the future.”

Celebrations at Pride IN London. (Photo credit: Michele Ghidoni)
Celebrations at Pride IN London. (Photo credit: Michele Ghidoni)

“LGBT-inclusive employers play a crucial role in changing society by using their power and influence to proudly support LGBT people in their organisations. Our number one employer of 2019, Pinsent Masons is leading the way championing lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality in the workplace. They know that helping staff feel that they can bring their full selves to work doesn’t just make a huge difference to individual team members – it makes real business sense too. They are a shining example for others to follow on how to ensure all staff feel empowered and supported.”

“Our recent research revealed that more than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) have hidden who they are at work for fear of discrimination. Whether as senior leaders, managers or colleagues, we all have a part to play in making sure that our workplaces and communities are places that accept and support LGBT people, without exception.”

In compiling the Top 100, Stonewall collects more than 92,000 anonymous responses from employees on their experience of the UK’s workplace culture and diversity. An overwhelming 93 per cent of non-LGBT employees who responded to the survey say they understand why their employer is committed to LGBT equality.

Full results of the Top 100 Employers list can be found online at

Written by QWEERIST editor

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