We are very excited to announce that Touchstone was ranked 19th in this year’s Stonewall Top 100 Employers Equality Index – The Definitive Guide to the Best Places to Work for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Staff! We’ve gone up 72 places in just a year! The presentation of the award took place yesterday on 14 January at a lavish venue. Stonewall’s CEO Ruth Hunt was the one to deliver the good news and present the award.
At the moment Touchstone is the only Yorkshire based employer listed in the Top 20 and one of only five charities that featured in the Top 100 nationally. Touchstone’s Chief Executive, Alison Lowe, has also been accorded 2015 Stonewall Senior Champion of the Year award.
Alison Lowe is a vocal public advocate for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people and has been the driving force at Touchstone where she has helped push through several sexual orientation equality initiatives since taking up the position of Chief Executive ten years ago.
Alison has used a variety of platforms to promote sexual orientation equality. She has opened Pride in Leeds for the last five years, actively campaigned for equality in Leeds City Council where she is serving as a Councillor and is the Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Employers’ Committee. Using these platforms, she has encouraged a number of organisations from across the public, private and third sectors to begin considering why creating workplaces that celebrate difference and are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people can generate business benefits and lead to improved service delivery.
Alison has also been at the forefront in recognising how intersecting identities can create unique challenges for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. Her article in Volition, a well-respected mental health magazine with a circulation of over 5000, highlighted the importance of understanding distinct and overlapping challenges faced by lesbian, gay and bisexual people who have experienced mental health problems. She also actively encourages other senior leaders to engage with Stonewall and profiles herself as a sexual orientation equality champion in communications to high profile individuals across the country, including many senior politicians.
Alison has mentored several other organisations in the region, including the NHS Leadership Academy based in Leeds to support their work around sexual orientation equality. As a mother of two gay children, Alison has always been willing to share her experience with other parents with lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans children. Her active involvement with a number of forums – from the City Council to the West Yorkshire Police & Crime Panel – to further the case for equality sets her apart as Senior Champion of the Year.