Business News

Stonewall Workplace Conference

Besi Besemar April 20, 2015

A record number of businesses attended the 12th annual Stonewall Workplace Conference.


STONEWALL, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) equality charity, held its 12th annual Workplace Conference on Friday April 17 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London, supported by EY.

Opening keynote speakers were Lord John Browne (Executive Chairman of L1 Energy and author of The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good Business), Steve Varley (Chairman & Regional Managing Partner, EY UK & Ireland) and Stonewall Chief Executive Ruth Hunt.

Ruth Hunt talked about the importance of businesses not being complacent. Her announcement that Stonewall is now a trans-inclusive organisation was received with rapturous applause. Talking about what’s left to do to combat discrimination in the workplace, she said: “for every person here in this room, there are ten who aren’t here”.

Lord Browne’s keynote outlined his own story as a gay man in business; the importance of role models, the benefits of creating inclusive workplaces and the part that great leadership plays in achieving that.

Steve Varley said that speaking on behalf of EY, and as a father and an ally, he stood with pride. EY, he said, is committed to increasing visibility of its allies and that it does not just want to build a better working world, but a better world full stop.

Benny Higgins (CEO, Tesco Bank) and Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom (Britain’s first trans military pilot) spoke in the afternoon, alongside a second address from Ruth Hunt.

Benny Higgins described his passionate interest in fairness and decency and gave a nod to George the Poet for words that inspire him, and highlighted both the importance of meritocracy and of being yourself.

Ayla Holdom talked about her experience of being the first openly trans pilot in the military and the importance of role models, describing diversity as an ‘active process’.

Over 750 delegates from the public, private and third sectors attended the event, which is Britain’s leading conference on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality in the workplace.

Breaking new ground was the theme for the 2015 conference, which covered topics including global, trans and senior leaders in business. It is also the first year the conference has been fully trans-inclusive.

Simon Feeke
Simon Feeke

Simon Feeke, Director of Workplace Programmes at Stonewall, said: “People perform better when they can be themselves, and Stonewall works with over 750 businesses who really recognise this. Not only do they want the best for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans staff – but they also understand the business benefits of a diverse workforce”.