It was the first year NHS Kernow submitted to be part of the list and was ranked 245 out of 503 employers, scoring 71.5 out of a possible 200. Stonewall said that this was a great achievement for our first submission.
The former nurse was given the title after sharing her personal story with colleagues about the experiences of an LGBT person and her reflections on the Stonewall LGBTQ+ Leadership Programme. Her story was shared nationally by Stonewall and was heaped with praise.
Her words have led to new and more inclusive ways of thinking and working within the organisation.
Colleagues have also said that after reading her story they feel they can speak more freely and openly about their sexuality and broader protected characteristics. As well as issues they might have whilst at work.
She said: “I was inspired to tell my personal story after a colleague shared her reflections in our staff newsletter and intranet. Her words had such an impact on me. I felt that as an executive director within NHS Kernow I really needed to step up and be a role model so that other people feel they can be themselves at work.”
The system director for integrated communities added: “I was surprised and very honoured to receive the award from such as respected organisation as Stonewall for my part in NHS Kernow’s continuing journey to improve equality and diversity in the workplace. Personally, this award is very special and I am so grateful for the support of colleagues.
“I was really delighted that in our first year of making a submission into the top 100 we gained this benchmark. I look forward to seeing how we continue to improve and show that we mean business and provide the very best support to our colleagues.”
Helen was joined at the ceremony by Rachel Tofts, a personal assistant at NHS Kernow, who became 1 of the organisation’s first Stonewall allies.
Rachel signed up to the Stonewall Workplace Allies programme, which supports non-LGBTQ+ individuals to create an inclusive environment for everyone, last year.
She said: “Helen is an inspiration to the LGBTQ community.”
Stonewall research shows that 1 in 7 LGBT employees (14%) don’t feel able to be themselves at work and almost 1 in 5 LGBT people (18%) have experienced discrimination when applying for jobs because of their identity.
Sanjay Sood-Smith is Stonewall’s executive director of workplace and community programmes. Sanjay said: “All of the organisations and individuals recognised in last night’s event are playing a huge role in improving the lives of LGBT people. They should be very proud of their work.
“We still don’t live in a world where everyone is able to be themselves in the workplace. As we know more than a third of LGBT staff (35%) hide who they are at work. By taking steps to make their workplaces supportive and welcoming of all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, these organisations are bringing us closer to a world where everyone is accepted without exception.”