Proud to be inclusive

By Kate Jones Equalities and Research Officer on 06 July 2022 NHS MSWs - Maternity Support Workers NHS Unions Trade Unions NHS Staff

On Saturday 2 July the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) walked in London’s biggest ever Pride march and the first one out of lockdown. RCM’s Equalities and Research Officer Kate Jones shares the importance of celebrating LGBT+ members and service users as well as keeping sight of the work ahead – fighting for rights of LGBT+ members in the workplace and building inclusive services that tackles discrimination and harassment.

On Saturday I joined a group of members, activists and staff to represent the RCM, alongside 30,000 participants from all sections of the LGBT+ community and over 400 community groups for London’s Pride Parade. With the Mayor’s office reporting that over a million people were in attendance on the day, the event was the largest Pride event in the city’s history.

At the parade and at Pride events throughout the day, participants and spectators celebrated diversity, inclusion and the LGBT+ community. The march also marked the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first Pride march in 1972, held in response to the Stonewall riots in New York, and represented an opportunity to remember and celebrate the advances made in LGBT+ rights in the last 50 years.

However, as we celebrate the achievements, it is vital to remember that there is still much work to do to support the LGBT+ community at work and in wider society.

A TUC poll, run by YouGov and published last month, has revealed a widespread lack of support for LGBT staff at work.

  • One in five (21%) UK workplaces surveyed said that they do not have any policies in place to support their lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) staff at work
  • Only half (51%) of managers told the TUC they have a policy prohibiting discrimination, bullying and harassment against LGBT workers in their workplace.
  • Less than half (47%) said they have a clear reporting route for workers to raise concerns about discrimination, bullying and harassment against LGBT workers – even though one in seven (15%) managers have responded to bullying, harassment or discrimination against one or more LGBT workers.
  • Just one in four (25%) managers said that they have a policy setting out support for trans (including non-binary) workers who wish to transition to live as another gender

The results of this survey are troubling. Everybody deserves respect at work, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity. Legally, the Equality Act 2010 protects all people from experiencing discrimination on the basis of a protected characteristic - Age, race, sex, disability, pregnancy or maternity, religion or belief, married or civil partner status, sexual orientation or gender reassignment.

As the trade union representing midwives and maternity support workers, it is the role of the RCM to fight for all our members’ rights in the workplace. We are committed to representing all our members, and working to ensure that everyone feels included, welcomed, listened to and represented by their union.

To promote the rights of our LGBT+ members, the RCM signed a joint trade union letter last year criticising the Government for its inaction in tackling discrimination and harassment faced by LGBT people. Similarly, just last week the RCM released an inclusivity statement with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to underline our commitment to diversity and inclusion for members, staff and service users alike.

However, we know there is much more to be done to achieve equality for LGBT+ maternity workers, and to ensure all LGBT+ RCM members feel safe and respected at work. The RCM wants to hear from our LGBT+ members to understand your experience at work and how we can promote your rights. If you are an LGBT+ RCM member and would like to know more, please email [email protected].