LGBT equality at the JIC

Leading plant and microbiology research institute the John Innes Centre has joined Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme which promotes and develops good practise for employers. The programme, run by the leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, promotes a good working environment for all existing and potential staff and helps ensure equal treatment for employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT).

JIC’s equality lead Dr Carole Thomas said:

“We have an extremely diverse population here at the John Innes Centre, with scientists from all over the world. Equality in all its forms is extremely important to us – JIC was the first research institute to achieve a Silver Athena SWAN award for equity for women in scientific careers. Our membership of the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme is a further step in our development.”

The announcement comes on the same day as the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (16-20 May 2016), and the start of a new partnership between JIC and Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney. The NHS service, provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, working in partnership with Mind and Relate, offers advice and interventions to people who are battling depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health issues. The new partnership will see wellbeing services being made available to scientists and staff from the institute.

Luise Usiskin, Client Account Manager, said: ‘By joining the Diversity Champions programme, JIC has recognised that people perform better when they can be themselves. Our members are forward thinking 21st century employers who want to recruit, recognise, and support the very best staff regardless of background. Good employers understand that providing support for all their staff improves their operational effectiveness.’

Sam Hicks, Laboratory Support Manager at JIC and a member of the LGBT+ community, said:

“Members of the LGBT+ community can be at a higher risk of experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicidal feelings than the general population. This can be due to a number of reasons, in particular because of the fear of rejection from friends, family and co-workers, and negative comments and reactions from these people and from society in general. This can have a huge impact on a person’s self-esteem, making them feel uncomfortable in their own skin and unable to be themselves at home, at work or in public.”

Andy Mack, who manages Wellbeing Norfolk & Waveney, said: “It is so important that employers actively support staff to openly ask for help with mental health issues. We hope that we can help John Innes have a positive impact on the wellbeing of their staff.”

May 17 was also International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (‘IDAHOBIT’), an initiative which is supported by JIC.

The Stonewall Diversity Champions programme has more than 700 major employer members from across Britain and is the largest non-governmental intervention of its kind in the world.

The John Innes Centre receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC).