Northumberland County Council and two of the region's NHS organisations have been ranked in Stonewall's top 100 employers for workplace equality.
Stonewall's top 100 employers is the definitive list showcasing the best employers for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) staff, compiled from submissions to its Workplace Equality Index.
This year, Northumberland County Council is ranked 25th, moving up from fourth to third in the Local Government category; the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has been named one of the most improved organisations after climbing 176 places up the list to 46th; and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is in 72nd place.
Northumberland County Council's chief executive, Steven Mason, said: "This is an excellent result and the second year in a row that we have been ranked in Stonewall’s top-25 employers. We were also pleased to be recently identified as the most improved local authority for tackling homophobic and biphobic bullying in our schools in the Stonewall Education Equality Index. This recognises the work we have done with our partners to promote equality and make our schools safe places to learn.
"The Stonewall ranking reflects the hard work we have all put in to make Northumberland County Council an excellent place to work and shows the importance we place on being an inclusive and supportive employer for all staff including lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans staff."
The NEAS has made efforts to engage more LGBT employees and patients as well as improvements made to services and employment practices. Over the last year, this has included creating better understanding and awareness across the trust, introducing a new Proud@NEAS Staff Network and improving its engagement with LGBT patients and stakeholders. The Trust was also mentored by Gentoo, a previous Stonewall Champion, as part of Stonewall’s Star Performers initiative.
Mark Johns, NEAS engagement manager, said: "It’s fantastic that the commitment, enthusiasm and hard work of our employees has been recognised and we would like to thank Gentoo for their support throughout our journey. As an emergency service which deals with the public on a daily basis, treating staff and patients fairly is one of our fundamental principles and something we are committed to.
"We understand that people work better when they can be themselves, and for that to happen, we need to create an inclusive working environment that values the contribution everyone makes. The Stonewall framework has helped us to make significant improvements for LGBT employees over the last year and the feedback we have received will help to keep the momentum and identify where we can make further improvements. We hope this recognition will make North East Ambulance Service an even more attractive organisation to work for."
Security Service MI5 took the top spot in the national rankings.