Today, I’m announcing my intention to step down as chair of the Civil Service LGBT+ Network, and firing the starting pistol on an election for our next chair.

I’m not disappearing immediately. The election process, published on our website, will see a gradual handover process for the new chair, completing over the Summer. It’s my intention to relaunch our mentoring programme for its third year and to mark the Civil Service LGBT+ Network’s 20th anniversary before I step away.

If you’d like to run in the election, and would like to discuss what the role is like, drop me an email; I’d be happy to chat.

It could be you!

We’re holding an election for the next Chair of the Civil Service LGBT+ Network.

Find out all the information you need on our Election 2023 topic page.

We’ve done loads, and it made a difference

This network has been my constant companion since I became a civil servant, almost 10 years ago. Back then, when I first joined and started to volunteer my time, our actively engaged membership counted in the dozens. A decade later our network has thousands of members; we host dozens of developmental and social events across the entirety of the UK; and more than 50 people directly help us to deliver our work. I’ve been helping along the way; first as a volunteer, then as vice-chair, and most recently, as chair.

Leading this team and representing the interests of LGBT+ civil servants across government has been an immense privilege, and I’m proud of the enormous amount of work that we’ve delivered together during my time as chair.

Our mentoring programme. Our largest ever presence at UK pride events. Ensuring there is a local network representative in every region of the UK. Our national conference. Restarting our socials and expanding them to every region of the UK. An array of learning and development events. Improving how our network operates internally. Providing more regular, focused opportunities for departmental networks to discuss shared issues. Establishing inclusion programmes for women, trans and non-binary people, and ethnic minority staff. Continuing our BiSpace programme and expanding it to include AceSpace. Tackling the rising threat of transphobia in our workplaces head on through engagement with Civil Service HR and with cross-government LGBT+ champions. Contributing to the development of HR policy. Collaborating with other cross-government networks and sharing best practice. I could go on…

In only 18 months, and with most of it happening in the margins and weekends, this network has done brilliant things.

Of course there’s always more to do. Some things haven’t gone according to plan, and there are always things to improve. But as I step down, I know that I, and the rest of our current volunteer team, have made a positive, transformative difference to the thousands of people that engage in our network regularly.

Thank you to our volunteers and network leaders

I want to take a moment to thank those who give up their time to support the cross-government LGBT+ network: our vice-chair team, our regional and national organisers, and our project teams. I also want to thank the dozens of individuals in departments that lead their own organisation’s LGBT+ networks: chairs, co-chairs, vice-chairs and wider committee members.

Thousands of small acts of selflessness keep our LGBT+ networks across the Civil Service alive. You are the life-blood of LGBT+ communities across the Civil Service, in your departments and agencies, and your role is vital to making our workplaces safe, connected and nurturing. Thank you for everything you have done to make this network thrive.

A final thought

It would be remiss of me not to note that this has been a difficult time to be a chair of an LGBT+ network. I’ve tried to make the most of a difficult landscape, and maintain a focus on positive interventions in spite of the prevailing winds. Whoever takes over will inherit a brilliant, energetic team and have the chance to lead a vibrant agenda; but they will also need lead in a way that is sensitive, thoughtful and consensus building. They will need to be protective of those most at threat, and have the resilience to confront some difficult conversations.

I firmly believe that the purpose of a cross-government network is to allow people to thrive. To make it possible and comfortable for people to bring their whole self to work. To ensure they have a community of people like them to identify with, so they feel like they belong in the Civil Service. To enable them to develop and grow in their professional life and careers. To set a positive example to everyone. To create consensus and acceptance; not division and fear.

Everything I’ve led, whilst I’ve been chair, has been dedicated to realising that vision. Whilst each new chair will have their own unique stamp on the role, I hope that whoever steps up to lead next will continue to build on that, so that every LGBT+ person can come to the Civil Service and be their best.