The Westpac Group has been announced as Australia’s 2016 Employer of the Year for LGBTI inclusion.
The title was handed out at an event in Sydney on Friday afternoon by ACON’s Pride in Diversity (PID) program, a national not-for-profit employer program for the inclusion of LGBTI people in the workplace.
It's the first time the bank has taken top place in the annual list of top 20 LGBTI employers - it came in second last year behind professional services network PwC, and third in 2014.
Uniting was the highest non-profit/charity in the list at number 6, while the highest ranking public sector employer was the Australian Federal Police at number 9. The highest ranking university was the University of Western Australia, which placed fourth.
Despite a tumultuous few months for telecommunications giant Telstra, it came in at number 15 on the list, up from 20 in 2015.
But it was the banks that overrepresented, with the Commonwealth Bank, Macquarie Bank, National Australia Bank, ANZ, Deutsche Bank and Bankwest all making the top 20.
Former High Court justice and Pride In Diversity patron Michael Kirby AC addressed the awards ceremony, saying it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that prejudice against LGBTI citizens has been overcome in Australia.
“Full equality has not been achieved in 2016. In fact there have been some notable reverses in the past year which we need to look squarely in the eyes; a clear sign that the struggle for dignity in Australia is far from over," he said.
Each year, the list of employers is determined by assessment against PID’s Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI). The benchmarking instrument evaluates LGBTI inclusivity against a comprehensive set of measures in addition to a body of supporting evidence submitted by the employer as part of the evaluation process.
Director of ACON’s 'Pride Inclusion' programs, Dawn Hough, said the AWEI has seen remarkable growth over the first six years of its life, with this year seeing the most significant growth to date.
"There has been a 46.6 per cent increase in AWEI participation, 125 per cent increase in first time submissions and a 48 per cent increase in accompanying employee survey responses," Hough said.
The top 20 employers for LGBTI inclusion for 2016 are listed below:
1. Westpac Group
2. Commonwealth Bank
4. Macquarie Bank + The University of Western Australia (equal fourth)
7. National Australia Bank
9. Australian Federal Police
11. NSW Police Force
13. AGL Energy
16. Norton Rose Fulbright
17. Deutsche Bank
20. Baker & McKenzie + Department of Defence (equal 20th)