Proud West Notts College hailed as champion of LGBT diversity

Flying the rainbow flag for West Nottinghamshire College are (from left) vice-principal Louise Knott, student representative Alex Belcher and staff representative Jane Hawksford.
Flying the rainbow flag for West Nottinghamshire College are (from left) vice-principal Louise Knott, student representative Alex Belcher and staff representative Jane Hawksford.

One of Mansfield and Ashfield’s educational flagships has again been named as one of the top workplaces in the country for promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) diversity.

Proud West Nottinghamshire College has been placed as high as 60th in the top 100 employers listing compiled by equality charity Stonewall. The listing is regarded as the definitive national showcase of LGBT-friendly organisations.

The pioneering college is also among the highest-climbing workplaces on the list in the East Midlands, rising 33 spots from its 93rd position last year when it broke into the top 100 for the first time, having been 143rd in 2015. West Notts is one of only two colleges in the country to feature in the prestigious listing, ahead of Newham College of Further Education in London, which was 72nd.

Louise Knott, vice-principal at West Notts and chair of its equality and diversity steering group, said she was “absolutely delighted”.

“Equality and diversity are deeply embedded within our culture and ethos,” she said. “This is a clear indication that all the hard work of colleagues right across our organisation has paid dividends.

“For many of our students, coming to college at the age of 16 serves as a bit of a watershed, whereby they feel they can start to be themselves.

“Many choose their transition to college to ‘come out’. Therefore, providing a safe and welcoming space for them to do this is essential. That is why we have invested a significant amount of time in creating an environment where students and staff can feel comfortable about themselves. Our work will continue.”

West Notts College has about 19,000 full-time and part-time students spread across its main campus on Derby Road, Mansfield and its smaller sites in Mansfield, Sutton and Kirkby.

Stonewall’s top 100 list is compiled from submissions to its annual audit of workplace culture for LGBT staff. More than 430 employers in the public and private sectors took part in the audit, measuring their performance against a range of best-practice indicators.

There was also a confidential staff survey in which employees were asked if they were comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation at work and confident in reporting homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying.

West Notts has tackled such bullying by supporting Stonewall’s No Bystander campaign. Other initiatives by the college have included class tutorials, visits by guest speakers, film screenings, poster campaigns and the making of a short film, which is to be shown as part of LGBT History Month in February.

Duncan Bradshaw, of Stonewall, said: “West Notts College has done a fantastic job and really does put equality and inclusion at the forefront of its work.”