The University supports the Network to run events and deliver initiatives that support their members, and works in partnership with all networks to develop improved policies.
Since its inception in 2010, the LGBT Network has provided a safe forum for LGBT staff to meet. Examples of their work include revieweing our Gender Identity policy, to ensure it uses inclusive language, and piloting a reverse mentoring scheme, where junior LGBT staff members share their experiences with senior managers, to help them understand some of the challenges they may have had.
This year the group welcomes Andy Cast as its new Chair, who started in HR as Head of Business Partnering in October. An accredited interpersonal mediator, executive coach and bereavement counsellor, Andy is a non-executive director on the Board of the Southern Co-Operative and also runs his own LGBT Human Rights Charity – Holding Hands 4 Equality (www.hh4e.org).
Andy explained what attracted him to the role:
I am passionate about fairness and equality and, as an out gay man in a senior role in the University, I believe it’s important for minority groups to be supported. I also want to be a role model and show people in the University that you can be successful whatever your sexuality.
“The LGBT Staff Network works in partnership with the University and other networks with the aim to create a safe, inclusive and diverse working environment that encourages respect and equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. I believe that, in order for every individual to reach their full potential, there must be no fear of discrimination or disrespect, and I intend to bring this approach to my tenure as Network Chair.”
In addition to organising the network’s activities, the Chair sets the vision for the Network and represents its members to the University. Network chairs are invited to attend relevant committees and are involved in consultation on new policies and strategies that could affect their members.
Kamaljit Kerridge-Poonia, Head of Equality & Diversity, said:
“Andy has considerable experience as a spokesperson for equality and inclusivity, from setting up his own LGBT rights charity and acting as a role model in the private sector organisations where he has worked. He has some excellent ideas for developing the Network, and I look forward to working with him to see these realised in the coming year.”
You can get in touch with the LGBT Network through their Facebook and Twitter pages, also by emailing UoSLGBT@soton.ac.uk or Andy Cast. You can find more information on their website here.