LGBT+ History Month

During LGBT+ History Month, I was drawn to once again to read the aims of the civil rights movement which include increasing visibility, raising awareness, making institutions safe spaces and promoting the welfare of LGBT+ people.

Though their work has often gone unrecognised in their own lifetime, many LGBT+ people have made extraordinary contributions to history. In 2019, mathematician and pioneer of computer science, Alan Turing, was voted as ‘The Greatest Person of the 20th Century’ in a BBC poll BBC Two – Icons: The Greatest Person of the 20th Century – The Finalists

This year, his achievements will be celebrated as he becomes the face of the new £50 note.

Other people have also made notable contributions in industries where it has been harder for LGBT+ people to freely express who they are, such as in professional sport.

My fellow Welshman, Gareth Thomas, became the first openly gay professional rugby union player. Where I’m from, Gareth is rightly considered a demi-god. A player that made 100 international appearances for Wales and captained both Wales and the British and Irish Lions with distinction. He is a trailblazer and a source of pride across the country. The power invested for other LGBT+ people in seeing a gay man play professional sport at the highest possible level (and be embraced as a hero) is incalculable. 

I recognise that more needs to be done to increase inclusivity, and it would be too easy to point the finger at other industries who struggle to build the diversity of their workforce without first of all focussing on our own. Ensuring that we reflect our communities at Cleveland Police is important. It’s important because it’s simply the right thing to do but it’s also important because it makes us better at what we do.

Diversity of thought and backgrounds ensures that our decision making is representative and ideas are generated from different sources. This is explained in research taken from a Harvard Business Review article Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter (hbr.org). Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team is working hard to ensure that Cleveland Police is more diverse both literally and cognitively. They are working closely with our LGBT+ network to help support our workforce and meet the needs of our LGBT+ staff and our communities. It’s one of the many commitments we make to ensure we are a top performing organisation.

Our partners are crucial in helping us to achieve this vision and act as a critical friend. Hart Gables is one such partner which plays a vital role in helping us to ensure we understand the lived experience of the LGBT+ community, that our staff feel empowered and we give a good level service to local people. For more information on Hart Gables and the service they provide, visit Hart Gables – Everyone knows someone who is LGBT

Richard Lewis, Chief Constable

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