https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2015/06/09/moving-forward-with-pride/

Moving forward with Pride

Jim Harra
Jim Harra, HMRC

I feel very privileged to be HMRC’s LGB&T Champion. I’ve been in HMRC since 1984, and during that time I’ve seen a tremendous, positive shift in attitudes towards LGB&T people, both in the department and the wider world. Indeed, I’m writing this blog just days after the Republic of Ireland voted ‘Yes’ to gay marriage – proof (if proof were needed) that mindsets are beginning to change.

In January, HMRC was named as one of the best and most inclusive places to work for LGB&T people – we were ranked 27th in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers in Britain list for 2015.  Much of that success is down to our constant drive to keep LGB&T diversity issues high on our equality agenda – and, of course, to the hard work of all our people in the HMRC LGB&T networks.

Demonstrating visible support for LGB&T colleagues

I was delighted that we did so well in the index, but what makes me really proud are the great things we’ve managed to get off the ground at HMRC since our last Stonewall submission. I can’t list them all here, but one of the initiatives that’s been particularly successful in demonstrating visible support for LGB&T colleagues is the PRISM Role Model Programme – now 550 strong, and growing.

Participants can display their government building pass on a bright Rainbow lanyard, which clearly identifies them as actively role-modelling the right behaviours and offering day-to-day friendship and support to LGB&T colleagues.

Our LGB&T networks recently responded to consultations on policy issues, such as changes to Banked Leave and Shared Parental Leave – helping to ensure both guidance and policy can be read by anybody in a same sex relationship without feeling excluded. And we’re starting to share our knowledge and experience across Whitehall. Recently, our Trans network gave feedback on the Home Office’s re-drafted guidance on gender reassignment, on potential impacts relating to tax and benefits issues.

Photo of Champion Difference event, with Jim Harra centre-left
Champion Difference event, with Jim Harra centre-left and MoJ Permanent Secretary Ursula Brennan, centre-right

Count me in

Of course, to plan effectively, departments need to know more about the people who work in their organisations and what their demographic make-up is. The more our workforces – at all grades – reflect the diversity of our customer base, the better we will be able to understand and respond flexibly to their diverse needs. In HMRC’s Business Tax we launched a ‘Count Me In’ campaign last year, to encourage all our staff to fill in their diversity declarations.  I’d like to see all Civil Service leaders leading by example, making sure their declarations are up to date, and that everyone understands why this is so important.

I believe passionately in treating everyone fairly and with respect – behaviours we should all encourage throughout the Civil Service. We need to get to a position where LGB&T people can just be themselves at work, and where they feel completely safe and comfortable in sharing details of their sexual orientation or gender history whenever they wish. Quite simple, really.