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Friday 07 September 2018

FDA member named one of the most influential LGBT+ people in Wales

FDA member Craig Stephenson has cemented his reputation as one of the most influential LGBT+ people in Wales, as his name has made it onto the annual Pinc List for the third time. 

Run by WalesOnline in collaboration with Pride Cymru, the Pinc List names 40 individuals who have contributed to LGBT+ life in Wales.

The Director of Commission Services was selected for his equality work at the National Assembly for Wales. Here, he co-chairs OUT-NAW: the network for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans staff.

He has also been described as a “visible ambassador” for the Assembly, and colleagues commended his generous support of fellow LGBT+ employees. “He takes a selfless approach to these matters,” they said, “and is a true and inspiring role model for others.”

Stephenson described his listing as “a real honour.” “As a Director within the organisation I use my leadership skills to help drive improvements in the workplace but if I’m honest, I’m knocking at an open door at the Assembly. Equality is at the heart of what we do to ensure that our Welsh parliamentary legislature reflects all of Wales’ diverse communities.

“Most of my time and effort is involved in assisting other networks or organisations develop their approach to LGBT-inclusive workplaces, sharing policies, coaching and mentoring other LGBT public sector employees, and sharing our experience to help others.”

When asked about his proudest achievement as part of OUT-NAW, Stephenson picks his work on gender-neutral facilities . “About three years ago, my co-chair and I attended a seminar on our estate about trans inclusion. The young people that led the session were all trans, and we learned about some of the daily issues they encounter. One of the biggest which kept cropping up was a lack of gender-neutral toilet facilities.

“Following the seminar, we developed a business case for providing gender-neutral facilities in our three buildings in Cardiff Bay. It was a fairly simple process, but nobody had thought of it before. The business case was approved, implemented and within a few months ‘Toilets for everyone’ signs were in place.

“Just the other week, a young trans person was placed with me for a week’s work experience, and as we got out of the lifts on his first day, he said Oh great, you have gender-neutral toilets’. Clearly, it’s something that is very important, inclusive and helps remove a barrier for trans colleagues.”

Before the Pinc List was even conceived, Stephenson received recognition for his activism. In 2014, he won the FDA’s Wendy Jones Award, which celebrates an exceptional member’s (or members’) efforts to forward the union’s equality and diversity agenda. “The nomination related to my work as senior champion on LGBT issues and chairing our staff network,” Stephenson explains. “At the time, we had been annually and incrementally improving our place in the Stonewall workplace equality index and had been named as the top public sector organisation in Wales. Since then, we’ve made further improvements across the piece and we’re currently the top UK organisation.” In addition to this, Stephenson currently speaks for the union as the Welsh language representative on the Wales TUC’s General Council. 

When asked what advice he would give to fellow members who wish to make their own workplaces more LGBT+ friendly, Stephenson stated that this work needs “good planning, leadership and sustained commitment.”

“I always emphasise that this work doesn’t cost much money. If you look at Stonewall Top 100 organisations, there are plenty in the public sector amongst them. It’s worth starting a conversation with one of them if you think your organisation could improve its approach to making it more inclusive. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, so use the experience of others and plan an approach that will suit your organisation.

“Ensure you get leadership buy-in and then think, year on year, how you can incrementally improve things. This isn’t a difficult nut to crack. Most organisations in the public sector want to be employers of choice and to have diverse workforces, but it does need someone to lead and plan what those improvements might be.”

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