Civil Service allies Week

My name is Naomi Diver and have been working for the Environment Agency (EA) for almost 6 years and during that time I’ve moved around different areas and teams. I have always been impressed with how friendly and kind my colleagues are and the great diversity that is championed everywhere you go.

I am a Freshwater Ecologist based in East Midlands and I am lucky enough to have 3 members of the LGBT+ community in my team, from relatively new starters right through to long standing members of the team. More recently I have become aware that there is more I could have been doing as a straight ally to support them in the work place and raise the profile of the EA as a Stonewall top 100 employer with an amazingly active LGBT+ network. I have been a friend of the network for a while but I came to the realisation that I have been a passive friend, rather than an active one. I decided this had to change…

In the summer of 2018 I took part in Nottingham Pride. I had never attended a Pride event before and was very excited to be part of it but also a little nervous. The weather was beautifully sunny and clear as I walked into town. Meeting together beforehand was great to get to know people from other EA depots and offices who were attending Pride, soon there was a whole gaggle of us (Troop? Gang? Shoal? What is the correct term? Pride seems too on the nose). I was sporting a very fashionable Environment Agency black polo shirt and hat (I sometimes feel like an ecologist ninja at work decked out in mostly black) but something was missing – oh that’s right rainbows and glitter! Once the obligatory makeover had occurred I was ready.

Naomi and EA colleagues at Pride

The conglomeration of people at the start line was an amazing celebration; music was playing from a variety of sources mashing together, whistles blaring, flags waving, people dancing and chatting. There was a palpable energy in the air. The variety of organisations present impressed me, and I felt honoured to be representing the EA to so many people in my home town. Our group managed to join forces with the Civil Service representatives and we were off, marching with banners, rainbow umbrellas, and most importantly lots of sweets to hand out along the way.

The route was through the centre of town and we ambled our way along, dashing here and there with gay abandon (sorry, I couldn’t resist getting that in) handing out sweets and smiles. The people lining the streets were young and old, some were there on purpose and others had the luck of stumbling across the parade whilst popping out for some milk or a Greggs pasty. It was honestly one of the most fun things I’ve done in a while and despite having a smile on my face for the entirety of the 2 hour parade my cheeks didn’t even ache. Once completed I felt elated and didn’t want to stop, I could have done it all over again, however we all settled for a trip to the pub instead with the Civil Service reps for a well-deserved pint.

I would recommend taking part in a Pride event to absolutely everyone! It was only a few hours on a Saturday but I hope it made a difference to my colleagues and friends to feel supported at work and at home. But also to members of the LGBT+ community everywhere that there are lots of employers who celebrate diversity. There is so much you can do as an active ally of the LGBT+ community so please get involved.

A post script from the Environment Agency LGBT+ Network

My name is Shelley Doe and I am the LGBT+ Network Rep for East Midlands. I could not be more proud of the support the Friends Network has provided in our Area.

I have had personal accounts from new starters about the difference it has made to them seeing Friends badges and LGBT+ Network lanyards and the very visible support the Allies provide. They can come into work and know they are able to be themselves without fear of negative feelings and attitudes.

I also attended Notts Pride and it was amazing. Another opportunity for me to burst with pride about how great my EA colleagues are and to show this off to the people of Nottingham.

We now have 5 Friends Leads in our Area and they provide huge support in helping me organise events. And having other active members such as Naomi around site who are willing to get actively involved makes everything easier and increases visibility even more. It feels more powerful when it is somebody outside of the LGBT+ community who is making a stand.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all. Your importance should not be underestimated and nor should the impact it can have on those around you.

Civil Service allies Week is a chance to highlight the important role of LGBT+ allies in the Civil Service.

Find out more about Allies Week