We’ve got work to do.

The Civil Service is an inclusive, welcoming and open place to work for LGBT+ staff. For many, your identity is no barrier to getting on with the job and progressing your career.

But that isn’t true for everyone, and we still have a way to go. Whether it’s bullying, harassment and discrimination, career progression, or simply representation across the Civil Service; there is still work to do.

I’m delighted to now lead this network. I want our work to help the Civil Service become the best employer it can be for LGBT+ people; an employer that every LGBT+ civil servant can say they are proud to work for, and proud to be themselves as part of.

I officially took over as Chair last Friday. I wanted to share a few thoughts about my priorities, and what you can expect from the network in the coming weeks and months.

What happens next

During the election, I said there was a number of things I wanted to focus on as chair. Those included:

  • learning and development: making sure the mentoring programme can run again next year, and planning an annual Civil Service LGBT+ conference
  • bullying and harassment: creating an anti-bullying campaign and working with the permanent secretary champion to develop cross-government policy responses
  • the new normal: re-introducing our regular socials, developing new digital events, and creating a new online space for LGBT+ civil servants
  • expertise and advice: providing better data and resources for networks and organisations on the experiences fo LGBT+ staff
  • making the network work: building on BiSpace with new programmes for LGBT+ women and ethnic minority staff, implementing new transparency mechanisms about the network’s work, and improving the deal for our volunteers

That’s a lot of stuff to get done – so my first priority is going to be in putting together a sensible plan, and making sure we can deliver it. We will need help to make all this happen – so look out for opportunities to get involved over the next few weeks too.

Whilst that planning is happening, the existing work of the network continues; in fact, some of the priorities I’ve noted above are already starting to take shape.

Mentoring programme

Our mentoring programme has been a big success already. More than 800 people have taken part in the scheme so far. I’m delighted to confirm today that the mentoring programme will be back next year, thanks in large part to the efforts of Jonathan Kerr.

Jonathan is helping us to build a new digital tool that will make our mentor matching process much faster; which means that we can run the programme more often.

Reintroducing our socials

Our in-person social events have been on hold since the start of the pandemic. Following some trial events over the summer in a few locations, I’m pleased to announce that our usual programme will resume in London starting this week, thanks to our local organiser team.

We will obviously keep this under review depending on the prevailing public health advice, but expect us to rotate around Westminster and Soho on the first Thursday of every month.

I’ll be working with our volunteers across the UK to see if we can restart socials at other locations in the coming weeks too.

I don’t want to lose the great work the network has done during the pandemic to make online events great either. Our PrideON programme continues online, with a ‘Create your own Pride flag’ workshop on 15 October, and I’ll be asking our volunteer team to look at developing a new programme of online-only events to compliment our in-person programme.

Some operational logistics

Our network has gotten too big to be supported by some of the online tools we use for free to keep in touch with our members, like our newsletter. I’m doing lots of boring back-end stuff at the moment to make sure we can all keep in touch online.

Finally, you might have noticed we refreshed our website this past weekend as a first step to give the network a fresh lick of paint as our new team takes shape.

A few thank yous

Before I wrap up, I wanted to thank Kate Hughes for her years of service to this Network, first as Vice-Chair and latterly as Chair. She has steered us through a period of immense uncertainty and made the Network a success despite the global pandemic. Her impact on the network will be felt for many years to come, and I know in her new role she will continue to champion the experience of LGBT+ staff.

I also wanted to thank Jordon Zaman, who has stepped down as one of our vice-chairs this week. Jordon’s contribution to the Network has been excellent, and I know his presence will be missed in the team.

Thank you also to Alan Edwards, who was my opponent in the recent Chair’s election. Whoever won, the network would have been in safe hands, and I’m sure Alan will continue to play an active role in the network, particularly with our BiSpace programme.

We’ve got work to do

This is a very exciting opportunity for me to lead the Network, particularly at this moment as we re-emerge from the uncertainty of COVID-19.

As you will see from this blog post, lots of work is already underway, there’s a lot planned too. I hope that you will get involved to help make this programme of activity happen. We’ve got work to do!