Human rights body exits Stonewall UK’s diversity scheme

Great Britain’s human rights watchdog has not renewed its membership of a diversity scheme run by the LGBTQ+ group Stonewall, saying it was not offering “value for money”.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission told Stonewall of its plans in March. It had been part of the charity’s Diversity Champions programme, set up to make sure workplaces are inclusive. This is done by vetting policies that are in place, including who can use toilet facilities.

An EHRC spokesperson said that as a publicly funded organisation it wanted to make the “best choices” when it came to its budget and was reviewing all of its memberships.

It said the programme “did not constitute the best value for money”, adding that it remained “committed to creating an inclusive workplace that will attract people from all backgrounds, where all of our colleagues will thrive and where all LGBT employees are accepted without exception”.

Nancy Kelley, Stonewall’s chief executive, said it was proud of its work supporting hundreds of organisations. More than 850 companies are signed up for the scheme. She says 35% of LGBTQ+ staff hide who they are at work, while 18% have been the target of negative comments.

“It’s up to individual employers how they meet their statutory requirements. It’s great that EHRC can lead this vital work to support LGBTQ+ employees on their own and we continue to work with EHRC on a wide range of public policy matters.”

The scheme courted controversy after an independent report commissioned by the University of Essex found that Stonewall gave it incorrect and potentially illegal advice on transgender issues.

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EHRC left the scheme just days after Stonewall and other LGBTQ+ groups criticised them in an open letter. It read: “As leaders of trans and LGBTQ+ organisations, we are writing to express our frustration and disappointment at the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s recent record on LGBTQ+ people’s rights and trans people’s rights specifically.”



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