The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) rights advocacy group, Stonewall, released its yearly Workplace Equality Index earlier this month showing Brighton and Hove City Council in the top five on its list of GLBT-friendly employers.
The Council has a module in its diversity training about the experiences of GLBT persons in the workplace. Joining the Council in the list of top employers are East Sussex County Council, Sussex Police, and East Sussex Fire and Rescue service.
The University of Sussex has not done so well, nor have other educational institutions. Stonewall’s report states that universities and housing organisations are the employment sectors with the lowest scores.
The University of Sussex Student Union (USSU) Welfare Officer Ciaran Whitehead offered up a possible explanation for the university’s absence from the list: “The Equality and Diversity Committee used to meet three times a year. However, in June, the Chair (Deputy Vice Chancellor Paul Layzell) decided that the number of committee meetings would be reduced to two per year. The reasoning behind this was that the committee would still be able to complete its policy work with fewer meetings. Most of the members do not appear to really be passionate about it. It’s a shame that, being so close to Brighton, we really don’t seem to celebrate and promote equality and diversity at Sussex.”
In addition to the committee, there is an equality and diversity forum with more representatives from the Union and university staff, which meets three times a year, although it does not have the power to determine policy. The forum serves only in an advisory capacity. It is difficult to determine just what the E&D committee has discussed in its recent meetings. The minutes from the meetings are supposed to appear on the committee’s Sussex website, but as of the writing of this article, the most recent set of minutes available was from February of 2008.