An event was held today (Thursday 17 May) to share what members of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN) are doing to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender + (LGBT+) representation in their organisation’s apprenticeship programmes. 

The event, hosted by Helen Grant MP and Chair of the ADCN, coincided with International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and saw ADCN members share what they are doing to ensure their on-going commitment to diversity includes support to the LGBT+ in their apprenticeship programmes. Attendees included ADCN members Neil Bentley from WorldSkills, Group Captain Steve Dharamraj from the RAF, Paul Boradhead from Rolls Royce and Amanda Wood from AWE.

Research findings from LGBT+ charity Stonewall suggest that 26% of LGBT+ workers don’t feel that they can be open about their sexual orientation at work. Discrimination, bullying, and harassment can often lead to a higher risk of developing mental health issues, which comes at great personal and business cost.

Highlighting some of the best practice initiatives in this area, ADCN members used the event to share their own LGBT+ experiences and how they monitor diversity. Amongst them was the Royal Airforce (RAF) who is working with the Royal Navy, Army and the wider Ministry of Defence to support LGBT+ employees across the Defence sector, working closely with the Air Cadet Organisation and with Recruitment at RAF College Cranwell. Another ADCN member, Channel 4 -with 14% of their apprentices identifying as LGBT+, are proactively offering support to their LGBT+ apprentices in the workplace.

An annexe to the ‘Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network: Achieving the benefits of apprenticeships’ progress report, outlining the support and best practice developed by ADCN members, was also made available at the meeting, and highlighted the growing membership of the ADCN, which now stands at 60 members.

Helen Grant MP said:

“I am delighted to see the ADCN network continue to grow in members, whilst we develop and share best practice around different issues – most recently LGBT+. This work will ensure that examples of good practice can be replicated more widely – across our network and also shared with apprentice employers more generally.

“A brilliant example that all employers can get involved in, is to work with Peer Networks - we recognise the power of networks, both by setting up new support networks, and by tapping into those that are more established. ITVPride is one good example – it provides support for LGBT+ colleagues and regularly engages in Pride issues and activities as well as providing advice and support in the workplace and through their intranet and social media.

“Getting ADCN members together, to share best practice and to discuss openly, on an important day, the issue of LGBT+, has been enlightening. I look forward to seeing how we can develop our commitment to diversity further, alongside our newest members.”

New member of the ADCN, Sue Renny from Superdrug added:

“We are committed to diversity and have pledged to work strategically in in the area of LGBT+. It is our ambition to create supportive policies that protect inclusivity and reflect the culture of our business.”

The Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN) champions apprenticeships and diversity amongst employers and encourages more people from underrepresented groups, including those with disabilities, women in STEM careers and members of the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, to consider apprenticeships. The network supports the government’s commitment to increase the proportion of apprenticeship starts by people from BAME backgrounds by 20% by 2020.

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