LGBTQ+ History Month: Recognising advocates for change.

In honour of welcoming in LGBTQ+ History Month this February, the Thrive Tribe wanted to continue to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ Community, in a creative but educational way. In doing so, we believe we are playing our part in educating individuals and in creating workplaces that are healthy, inclusive and free from barriers. Last year, for LGBTQ+ History Month, we chose famous male and female figures in LGBTQ+ history that we did not know anything about and researched them to uncover the fascinating bold and brave lives they led. To have a read of our blog we published on this, please click here.

In shining a light on individuals who are, at present, paving the way for those in the LGBTQ+ Community, we wanted to focus on those who may be underrepresented and yet continually and actively fight for change. By sewing equality, diversity and inclusion into the fabric and culture of all businesses through sharing stories and highlighting certain individuals, we believe will slowly but surely help change attitudes.

Within the legal sector in the United Kingdom, statistics over the years have illustrated that there has been a shift in views and opinions surrounding LGBTQ+ lawyers and so this has naturally been subject to rapid change and development within law firms across the UK. This has been aided greatly by Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ equality charity, who a launched a list of the 20 most inclusive law firms for LGBTQ+ staff in the UK as of 2014. Stonewall have since continued this practice each year, ranking the top 100 most inclusive employers for LGBTQ+ staff in the UK, ranking employers from across the public, private and third sectors regarding how inclusive their workplaces are. To see the full list of Stonewall’s top 100 employers for 2020, follow the link here. Please note, submissions for the 2021 Workplace Equality Index were due to open in June 2020. However, due to the challenges many employers are facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have decided not to run the index this year. The 2022 Workplace Equality Index will open for submissions in summer 2021 through the Diversity Champions programme, which you can find more information on here.

In respect of the above, we wanted to highlight Mr Keith Winestein, a campaigner and public speaker based in London. Interestingly, we first came across Mr Winestein only this morning when reading a blog he had published on the Law Society’s website. Typically, the focus of blogs like this tend to be on those individuals who are recognised in the media and news for their achievements or contributions to the LGBTQ+ sector. However, it is ordinary individuals with a powerful story who can really make a difference and Mr Winestein certainly achieves just that. His blog was drafted in honour of LGBTQ+ History Month and he detailed how the prevalent discrimination against the LGBTQ+ society impacted not only his wellbeing but many aspects of his life growing up.

Mr Winestein bravely shares his own lived experience within his blog and details just how his journey started on this pathway, back in September 1981 on his big move down to London aged only 19, whilst tackling the norms of what being a gay man meant during this time, a time that offered very little legal protection for the LGBTQ+ community, gay men bearing the brunt of this in particular. There was one line in his blog in particular that struck a chord; “being gay did not cause my mental health problems but some of the things that I have lived through have negatively impacted my mental health.” This is something that is sometimes overlooked in respect of discrimination individuals face because of their sexuality. He further details how in the LGBTQ+ community, there are higher rates of suicidal distress, anxiety and depression, which means there is a one in three chance that an LGBTQ+ individual is dealing with mental health problems, in comparison to that to one in four in the general population, hence the very need for these articles. 

Mr Weinstein’s approach is simple, through the practise of diversity and inclusion and accessible mental health services, a more inclusive community is immediately formed and it takes honesty and courage to achieve such results. Amongst Mr Weinstein’s achievements he successfully helped establish the first LGBTQ+ staff group for the mental health charity Mind and is a Mind Senior Leader in association with ‘Time For Change’ (an initiative that was listed as one of the UK’s top public health achievements of the 21st century). He also empowers mental health champions across England and was a former member of the London 2012 Disability Community Advisory panel (ensuring the Olympic and Paralympic games was open and accessible to those experiencing mental ill health) and has worked on projects such as World Aids Day, the National Aids Trust, MenTalkHealth, The Prince’s Trust, Health Inatives for Youth and the Frontliners, to name a few.

It is clear that diversity and inclusion is featured at the very core of Mr Weinstein’s campaign and he has been a force for change. A key theme that is present within his message is making a change, no matter how small that change may be. He advocates continuously for reforms and campaigns for workplaces to consider inclusive counsellors, mental health first-aiders and an LGBTQ+ inclusive employers assistance programme by way of simple first steps to making a workplace more inclusive. His honesty and bravery shines through not only through his words, but his every contribution towards the LGBTQ+ society, a journey he has actively been involved with for over forty years. And so, we would like to recognise Mr Weinstein’s as a remarkable catalyst for change, paving the way forward for all the LGBTQ+ individuals within not only the legal sector but for all those in employment. For this and all his efforts, we are truly grateful!

Leaving you with some final words, as quoted by Mr Weinstein, it is crucial to remember, “it is everyone’s right to have good mental health with mental health services being accessible and inclusive to all. And by taking steps to make sure every employee feels welcome and valued, this isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do.”

Thrive Law have been the proud winners of the Diversity & Inclusion Awards for the Yorkshire Legal Awards for the past two consecutive years, and we are so proud to be playing our part in this respect. We are also hosting Mental Health First Aid courses in partnership with the Jordan Legacy, from April to December. For more information on this, please click here.

Written by the Thrive Tribe

 

 

 

 

 

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