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Jo Thompson, Head of Human Resources, reflects on being in the Stonewall Top 100 employers

On our return journey from the Stonewall Top 100 employers awards night, I sat reflecting back on an amazing evening. I was struck by the glamour and excitement of the evening (it was being held at the Law Society in London- what a beautiful old building!)…however, it was much more than that.

Stonewall_WEI_2017_Jo_Silviya_RuthHuntRuth Hunt, as the CEO of Stonewall is able to inspire, motivate and mesmerise a room full of senior leaders from across all sectors. As we stood listening to the challenges ahead and the achievements of those employers who received the top awards, the key phrase that came across for me is ‘being able to bring your whole self to work’. Whilst other strap lines such as ‘people perform better when they can be themselves’ also struck a chord with me, I think about why the work we do with Stonewall is important and for me, the key thing is that I want YSJU to be a place where people can come to work and bring their whole self. I want our colleagues to come into work each day and talk freely about their weekends, that they can talk about their wives or husbands or partners, regardless of their gender, that colleagues don’t feel the need to stick to gender neutral terms when they talk about their life outside of work.

I want YSJU to be a place where people can come to work and bring their whole self.

Stonewall provides us with a framework to do this work, it provides us with support and guidance in what are undeniably challenging times. During York Pride last year, only a week after the Orlando shootings, I felt incredibly honoured to play some part in enabling the LGBT community of York to express their feelings and thoughts to those who had lost loved ones. It was a joyous celebration at a time of sadness as the community came together and provided comfort and compassion for each other.

I walk around campus now and see rainbow lanyards everywhere I go, from a few individual members of staff wearing them when Ynda Jas suggested the idea a few years ago (and it is to their credit that this initiative happened), to most of our student facing and support staff wearing this explicit message of support, I feel incredibly proud of working here.

There is always more that we can do and when I heard the stories tonight from companies who lead the Top 100, I only feel more inspired that we can make York St John an even better place to work and study. We need to work harder to make this happen but I genuinely believe that we can remain in the Top 100 for the fourth year running. More importantly, I want staff to continue to feel that they can bring their whole selves to work.

Jo Thompson

I'm the Head of Human Resources and an important part of my role at York St John is to support and move forward the equality and diversity agenda for staff. I am the University lead on our submission to the Stonewall Workplace Equalities Index and act as the Equality Champion for Human Resources. I feel that already the LGBT staff network is making a difference in actively demonstrating a culture of inclusivity. I'm a big believer that by being authentic can create a happier place to work!

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