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Drew Sheldrick

20 Jan 2016 - 10:35 AM  UPDATED 20 Jan 2016 - 10:37 AM

British intelligence agency MI5 has been named the 'Employer of the Year' for LGBT people in Britain. Its number one ranking in LGBT charity Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers list for 2016 was up from seventh in 2015.

The list is compiled from submissions judged on employment policy and practice, including networking groups, career development, training and community engagement, with more than 60,000 staff from across 400 organisations taking part in an anonymous survey about their employer.

The security service beat the likes of Lloyds Banking Group, BP and Cardiff University to take out the top spot.

"Diversity is vital for MI5, not just because it’s right that we represent the communities we serve, but because we rely on the skills of the most talented people whoever they are, and wherever they may be," MI5 director-general Andrew Parker said in a statement following the announcement.

"This accolade from Stonewall is a great acknowledgment of the continued progress we have made over recent years in ensuring we draw on the widest possible pool of talent in our vital work."

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MI5 have now appeared on the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list since 2012.

"Those organisations that are ‘getting it right’ are not only improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff, stakeholders, clients and customers, but are also reaping business benefits," Stonewall chief executive Ruth Hunt said.

"We know that people perform better when they can be themselves, and it’s been proven that diversity among staff leads to a more productive, positive and creative workplace environment."

Stonewall's survey found that only 27 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual people feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation to their colleagues and customers. Figures were lower for lesbians (23 per cent) than gay men (33 per cent), and considerably lower for bisexual individuals (12 per cent).

Just 42 per cent of trans respondents said that senior leaders demonstrate a visible commitment to trans equality at work.

Australia has its own version of the Workplace Equality Index. Pride in Diversity's Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) last year named professional services network PwC as its top LGBTI employer, with Westpac, Curtain University, the Commonwealth Bank and Goldman Sachs all making the top five.

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