Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has been ranked the third most inclusive employer in Britain for the second year running by lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity Stonewall in its Top 100 Employers list for 2020.
The ranking equals the Service’s performance in the 2019 list, and means the organisation has retained its place as the top emergency service in the UK, and is also the top employer in the North West, due to its efforts to engage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff, volunteers and communities.
Additionally, Chief Fire Officer Mark Cashin has been awarded North West Senior Champion of the Year, while the Service’s LGBT staff network, Firepride, has been named as a Highly Commended Network Group. The Service was also identified as one of Stonewall’s Top Trans Employers - an unranked set of organisations within the index that score particularly well on trans inclusion.
It’s now the eighth consecutive year the Service has featured in the Top 100, which assesses organisations ranging from local authorities to international investment banks against criteria including engagement with staff and communities, training and leadership. It has also been the highest performing UK emergency service for the past five years.
Chief Fire Officer Mark Cashin said: “Over the past 10 years, we have worked hard to create a workplace where LGBT colleagues feel safe and able to reach their full potential. As a result, we are attracting more LGBT people into the Service than ever before and our latest staff survey showed that LGBT colleagues are among the happiest and most engaged in the organisation.
“A diverse workforce makes us better able to understand the needs of our increasingly diverse communities. For that reason, our focus this year has been on promoting the importance of LGBT inclusion in the way we provide our services.
“We are delighted that Stonewall has recognised this work and proud to have retained our position in the Top 100 Employers list. It is hugely important to us that we remain visible champions for LGBT inclusion.”
Stonewall’s Top 100 is compiled from submissions to the Workplace Equality Index, a powerful benchmarking tool used by employers to assess their achievements and progress on LGBT equality in the workplace, as well as their wider work in the community and on service provision.
Each organisation must demonstrate their expertise in 10 areas of employment policy and practice, including networking groups, senior leadership, procurement and how well they’ve engaged with LGBT communities.
Cllr Bob Rudd, the Chair of Cheshire Fire Authority, the body which oversees the Service, said that to be named top emergency service in the UK for five years running was a fantastic achievement.
He said: “There is no question that Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has become the example for others to follow when it comes to supporting our wonderfully diverse communities.
“Every year the Service has demonstrated its commitment to inclusivity and anyone who works for us or comes into contact with us should be assured of being treated equally, regardless of their background, sexual orientation or gender identity.”