Inclusive workplaces unlock growth, Starmer tells LGBT+ business leaders

At an event to mark Pride, the Labour leader renewed a commitment to ensure employees are ‘free of harassment’ and ‘able to be entirely themselves’.

Nina Lloyd
Thursday 29 June 2023 10:39 BST
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer meets LGBT businesspeople during a Pride breakfast event in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer meets LGBT businesspeople during a Pride breakfast event in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Sir Keir Starmer said creating more inclusive workplaces can “unlock growth” and would form part of Labour’s economic recovery plans as he spoke at an event to mark Pride.

The party leader renewed a commitment to ensure employees are “free of harassment” and “able to be entirely themselves” as he met LGBT+ business leaders at a roundtable discussion on Thursday.

He was joined by shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds, who said inclusive practices are “good for working people, good for business and good for our economy as a whole”.

Sir Keir lamented what he described as the breakdown in recent years of a “cross-party consensus” that once existed on LGBT+ rights and promised Labour’s politics would be defined by “dignity, respect and inclusion.”

The party leader told business chiefs this approach would also be central to Labour’s efforts to grow the economy, which “has got to be growth that’s reflected everywhere and with everyone”.

He promised a “changed Labour Party” that would enter the next general election aiming to “fight on the economy”, telling the meeting in central London: “In the past sometimes the Labour Party has sometimes gone into election wanting to hide away from the economy. We want to take it head on.”

Inclusive companies can achieve greater share prices, market valuations and stronger cash flows through retaining staff and enabling higher-level collaboration, the party said.

But it pointed to research by Deloitte which suggests that up to a third of workers are considering moving to a more LGBT-friendly employer.

Communications chief and former Government “LGBT+ champion” Iain Anderson and Diva Magazine CEO Linda Riley were among leaders who spoke with Sir Keir about the need for progress.

Mr Anderson told the Labour leader he stepped back from his Government role last April because “quite candidly I could not see a serious commitment towards pushing forward”.

“It was a job I was delighted to do.

“It was a job I was heartbroken, Keir, to step back from,” he said.

Sir Keir said: “There was happily until recently I think a cross-party consensus that we were moving forward and I think we wanted to move forward together.

“That has broken down and it feels to me as if that has stalled or even moved backwards… I want to hear from you as to whether that is an accurate reflection of where we’re at and what you’re doing to deal with this so I can understand it.”

He added: “The best teams value everyone for who they are, and in return they get the very best out of them.

“Those at the forefront of building these inclusive businesses know this is how you unlock growth and hold expertise.

“I saw that when I led a public service and now as I lead the Labour Party.

“Labour growth will be inclusive in every way, we will ensure working people are able to work free of harassment and able to be entirely themselves.”

Ms Dodds said: “Inclusion for LGBT+ people matters.

“We need to harness the potential of everyone in our economy and that means making sure that people at work feel safe and supported.

“Labour will make inclusion the norm, not the outlier, by requiring employers to tackle discrimination and harassment.”

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