Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has rocketed into the top 10 of LGBT charity Stonewall's prestigious Top 100 Employers list for 2017.
The Service has jumped five places from their 13th place in 2016 to a fantastic 8th position.
This is the fifth consecutive year the Service has featured in the Top 100, which assesses organisations ranging from local authorities to international investment banks against criteria including engagement with staff and communities, training and leadership.
Best performing emergency service in the UK
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is also the best performing emergency service in the UK due to its efforts to engage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff, volunteers and communities.
Over 430 employers entered the 2017 index, across the public, private and third sectors. As part of the index there is a staff feedback questionnaire that employers ask their staff to complete. This year Stonewall received over 90,000 responses to the staff survey, making it one of the largest national employment surveys in Britain.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service was recognised in particular for its focus on supporting the community, by addressing the safety risks faced by LGBT people, especially those who live alone, those aged over 65 and young people - whom the Service engages with through Prince’s Trust programmes, cadet units, school visits and other safety initiatives.
The Service’s efforts in the workplace to address homophobic abuse and other forms of bullying were picked out by Stonewall, including its robust policies, efforts to engage all staff in LGBT inclusion and the use of LGBT youth ambassadors who support the delivery of LGBT and diversity training to team leaders and staff working with young people.
Great reward for the organisation’s efforts
Bob Rudd, the Chair of Cheshire Fire Authority, the body which oversees the Service, said the achievement was a great reward for the organisation’s efforts around equality over the last year.
He added: “We are delighted to be recognised by Stonewall as a leader for LGBT diversity and inclusion. The index is a powerful way to help us demonstrate to our staff and the communities of Cheshire that we are here to support everyone, regardless of their background, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Proud of our FirePride network, allies and all staff
Chief Fire Officer, Paul Hancock who is also the senior sponsor of the Service’s LGBT staff Network Firepride, said: “I am so very proud of the staff in the Network and Allies and those across the Service who have helped to cement our position as a pioneering employer of choice for LGBT individuals. To feature in the top 50 of the list over five consecutive years shows the value that we place on all our people.
"Despite progress, there are still very low numbers of visible operational gay and bisexual staff across the fire and rescue service, although this is slowly changing. Our aim is to make sure that all our staff feel able to be themselves, give their all and be open at work. Participating in the Index helps us to shift perceptions and attitudes in order to help us achieve that."
"We want the best people to work for us, regardless of background, so I would urge anyone who would like to join us to keep an eye on our website for opportunities such as the Apprenticeship scheme we are recruiting for this spring or on-call firefighter recruitment at a number of our fire stations."
Links to more information
More about equality and diversity within Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
More information about Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index - top 100 employers