The partnership, announced on the 26th October, builds on an employers’ programme established five years ago by The Rainbow Project.
With support from Stonewall, this work will be extended and strengthened, with the number of employers working on the programme in Northern Ireland set to increase from 10 to 40 in the first year.
A new staff post has been created to deliver this work and, once appointed, they will be based in The Rainbow Project’s Belfast office.
This exciting new role will be supported by Stonewall’s Membership Team in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh, and will bring together skills and expertise developed across all four nations. They will deliver seminars, networking opportunities and foster relations between organisations across Northern Ireland so they can share best practice and offer each other peer support.
Stonewall workplace resources will also be adapted to reflect the legal situation and the unique issues affecting LGBT people in Northern Ireland.
Stonewall currently works with more than 750 employers, from local governments to multi-national organisations, helping them to create workplaces where everyone can be themselves.
Every year Stonewall reveals the top employer when it releases its Stonewall Workplace Equality Index Top 100. This benchmarking tool assesses how inclusive an employer is of LGBT people, investigating everything from policy and training, to the well-being of LGBT staff members.
By 2019, Stonewall and The Rainbow Project will be able to name Northern Ireland’s top LGBT inclusive employer.
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said: ‘By combining our resources, expertise and reach, Stonewall and The Rainbow Project can help transform the lives of many more LGBT people in Northern Ireland.
‘Employers want to get the best out of their staff and we know that people perform better when they can be themselves.
‘This partnership enables us to share the expertise and skills we have developed over the past decade, and to better understand how we can support LGBT movements in places where the law is different.’
John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project, said: ‘We’re thrilled to be building on our relationship and extending this into a formal partnership. We know that many employers are keen to make their workplaces welcoming of all lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff.
‘Now that we’re working with Stonewall, we can make that work happen faster and dramatically increase the pace of change for LGBT people in Northern Ireland.’