Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Stonewall’s list of top employers to be reviewed amid backlash over trans lobbying

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Stonewall is to review how it compiles its ranking of top LGBT employers, amid a fierce backlash over the organisation’s trans lobbying.

The controversial LGBT+ charity is planning to review its Workplace Equality Index, which scores organisations based on Stonewall’s opinion of their diversity and inclusion policies.

The index review is understood to be a routine procedure that happens every three years. However, Stonewall could face pressure to reexamine its scoring system after becoming embroiled in a toxic row over trans rights.

Stonewall’s guidance on trans issues has faced intense scrutiny after last month’s damning Cass Review warned there was a lack of established medical evidence for the use of puberty blockers to treat children who identified as trans.

The charity was a strong advocate for the use of puberty blockers in children, with Baroness Hunt of Bethnal Green, Stonewall’s former chief executive, previously advising schools to “shred” a research pack highlighting the dangers of the treatment.

Over 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for Baroness Hunt to lose her peerage since the publication of the Cass Review.

Companies wanting to be included on Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index need to answer various questions about their inclusivity policies, which have in the past included whether private health insurance covers transition-related treatments.

Stonewall has previously come under fire over some of the advice it has given to organisations eager for a place on the index, such as calling for them to replace the word mother with “parent who has given birth” to help boost their ranking.

The Welsh government, which appeared high on the list in 2020, deleted the term mother from its maternity policy in 2019.

Stonewall was meant to release its 2024 index as early as February, but has decided to delay the scores until the summer to coincide with Pride celebrations.

The charity has told organisations that it will not open entries for the next LGBT league table until early 2025, with the next diversity index expected to be announced as late as 2026.

Set up in 1989 to fight a ban preventing the “promotion” of homosexuality by local authorities, Stonewall has been pivotal at lobbying parliament and businesses on important LGBT matters and improving equal rights.

However, concerns have been growing about Stonewall’s influence over corporate HR policies amid doubts over the scientific basis for its guidance on trans issues.

The BBC, Channel 4, the Cabinet Office, the Department of Health and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have all stopped working with Stonewall in recent years.

The Workplace Equality Index forms the basis of Stonewall’s flagship Top 100 Employers List, which last year included FTSE 100 giants Barclays, HSBC, Aviva and Unilever.

Several of Stonewall’s Top 100 employers from 2023 have said they do not want to be included in this year’s rankings.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, for example, did not submit an application for Stonewall’s 2024 index and does not plan to enter next year.

The NHS Business Services Authority also opted against reentering and instead took the opportunity to review its approach.

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