Speakers@Google: Ben Summerskill

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 25.08.2009

SUMMERSKILL: Indeed, I have no points--no doubt that at some points in my lifetime,
the former Metropolitan University in this country will have a grant from the EU to examine
why no one ever sits in the front row at an event like this. And I do just owe you a small
apology, one thing I'm very mindful, none of you is quite as decrepit as I am. One thing
you will find, if you get to the age of 48 and you are still too vain to wear a spectacles
in public, then if you speak in public, you always find that the lectern is a little bit
further away than it was, the time before, but mindful that to stay in a lectern, it
is placed Slightly above my knees, you will forgive
if I speak without notes. Now, you--I'm going to refer to some of the--the things in which
someone's is being engaged and I do think sometimes those of us who live in this country,
in the beginning of the 21st century can almost become a tiny bit complacent. And certainly
with friends I have or friends and relatives in America are starkly aware of how little
legislative protection that many gay people have throughout the world, whereas in fact
in this country in the last six years alone we have seen not just the complete Decriminalization
Act among gay people between 16 and 21, which is a very real historic poison, but we've
seen the young instruction of gay people into the armed services. We've seen the equalization
to the law around both fertility, treatment and adoption, we've seen huge progress in
education with the abolition of section 28 and the new Equality Act which in some sense
is going to do the exact opposite of what Section 28 did, which is positively requires
schools to support their lesbian and gay pupils. And we've also seen a new offense of incitement
of hatred and hate crime protections to match similar protections around race, and gender,
and disability, and of course, we've seen civil partnership which affords lesbian and
gay people in this country, every single one with the rights and entitlements of heterosexual
marriage, the rights and entitlements of course, which most heterosexuals take for granted
from the day they were born. But in spite of that catalogue of positive and progressive
changes, I'm certainly very aware to the fact that, there has been and remain quite active
opposition to equality in this country from small pockets of people and specific interest
groups. One of them I have to say is a rather odd organization which styles itself the Christian
Institute, you know, it's not just all because it so awfully sounds terribly Christian at
all when you listen to what they have to say, but if you go into their Website, you'll see
the sorts of things that the Christian Institute is interested in. They are in favor of spanking,
and they are against prostitution and they are against pornography, although curiously
they seemed very keen to share with you details of many of the sorts of pornography they are
against. And I was reminded on the way here, of an encounter I had, actually, exactly five
years ago with someone from the Christian institute. And five years ago our plans for
civil partnership during the summer of 2004 were actually wrecked in the House of Lords,
they were sabotaged. And we have to go back to the House of Commons and go through the
committee stage and put the bill back together. And it was one very warm afternoon just like
this, that I popped out of the committee session in the Commons and I went to the loo and there
in the loo's new mansion, what the loo's like in the House of Commons, marble floor, wooden
paneling, a row of urinals stretching into the middle distance. And there at the--the
very far urinal was the Policy Director of this organization called the Christian institute.
Now, the boys among you, perhaps all the girls will be aware that in such circumstances,
there is an etiquette. If someone is standing at the urinal that's halfway--as far away
from you as possible, if do you converse, you should do exactly the same; stand as far
away from him as you can too. So, mindful of this etiquette, and of course, my obligations
to Stonewall, I went and stood at the urinal immediately next to the man from the Christian
institute and I said, "How are you?" Because I noticed he's been taking some Nurofen earlier
on, I said, "How are you?" And he said, "I'm not well, people like you make feel ill."
And I was able to share with him which at Stonewall, we say no to the use of pharmaceuticals,
but at times of stress we prefer to rely instead upon the nourishment that comes from the power
of prayer. And I can say that ever since then, whenever I have bump into the gentleman from
the Christian institute, he has looked at me in rather an odd way. But he is still there
as are so many others, campaigning against legislative equality. And I will just explain
and I'm not going directly into semantics of why the word equality is important to others.
Something you'll often read in papers like the Daily Mail, whose--in a way it campaigns
the gay rights. Well, actually, we're not really campaigners for gay rights. I've never
wanted a single gay right in my life. I--like so many other lesbian and gay people have
just wanted exactly the same rights that everyone else takes for granted and exactly the same
treatment and exactly the same respect. But of course, when in 2003, we saw the one bit
of the legislative jigsaw--I've not mentioned yet, which was workplace equality, protection
from discrimination at work, introduced. They were exactly the same sort of objections we've
seen too--so much of our work. And I've already drawn attention to my age, and so, it doesn't
matter if I do it again. I'm old enough to remember and as I fear, not a single one of
you is, and I understand, as any reference to my age in relation to yours is a reference
to my decrepitude as opposed to your healthy youth. And I'm--I'm old enough to remember
the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975, which of course provided equality
of work to women for the very first time in this country. And in the round up to the introduction
of the Sex Discrimination Act, there were letters almost every day in the letters column
of the Daily Telegraph and Times, and they were from the principals of Oxbridge Colleges
and retired brigadiers and permanent secretaries in Whitehall. And they were all complaining
that all this equalities have all, all very good--they had no objection to their treatment
of women at all, but there was a problem that have been overlooked. And it was that they
all inhabited listed buildings and it would cause terrible problems if they were required
to provide women's lavatories in every one of these listed buildings. Well, miraculously
of course, the Sex Discrimination Act was introduced 30 years ago; we've got through
the intervening years of our noble island history without invasion or plague being caused
as a consequence of the desecration of listed buildings, for the purpose of complying with
the Sex Discrimination Act. And I was reminded of all that once again, in December 2003,
when all workplace protections came in. And it was on the morning, Monday, the first of
December 2003; and I was reading the Daily Mail. I read the Daily Mail, so Stonewall
supporters don't have to. And there among its usual catalogue of scare stories, and
those of you who've seen the Mail occasionally will know about this, you know, fresh air
causes cancer, if children played hopscotch they'll get housemaid's knee. There on page
two; amongst these catalogues of scare stories was a firm prediction, drawing attention to
this--these new protections to stop gay people just being sacked for being gay. And the Daily
Mail claimed, and as a consequence within months, thousands and thousands of avaricious
homosexuals would be suing their employers for hundreds of thousands of pounds. Well,
of course, curiously like so many predictions in the Daily Mail, it didn't actually turn
out to be true. And something we can certainly say from our--our perspective at Stonewall
is that hardly ever, do we come across people who just want to sue their employers for thousands
and thousands of pounds; almost, always where we do come and to speak with who have difficulties
at work that are related and genuinely related to their sexual orientation, all they actually
want to do is have the difficulties resolved, so that they can continue to do the job and
pursue the career that they have chosen. And it was mindful of this that we set up a good
practice program for employers. What we called our Diversity Champions Program in 2002 in
preparedness for the introduction of these regulations. Now, that program happily now
engages Google, it engages 500 major employers in this country. And if you look on our Website,
you can see that those employers do not in some sense teach the necessary usual suspects
of a progressive workplace activity. They include IBM, and Barkley's and McKenzie in
the private sector and the Royal Navy, and now the Army and MI5 in the public sector
and--I think most of you will appreciate those, sorts of workplaces where people sit around
in circles holding hands and singing Kumbaya. There are actually workplaces that are absolutely
focused on maximizing share-hold value in the private sector or indeed on delivering
world class public services in the public. And we don't see that those objectives as
being inimical to the delivery of equality of fair treatment in the workplace. We see
the delivery of equality, and respect, and fair treatment for employees and staff as
a way of delivering some of those organizational objectives. I did actually point out to some
people a few weeks ago, that it's interesting to me but with five million people now going
to work everyday in this country from Stonewall Diversity Champion, that means, there are
five times as many people going to work for an employer with whom we engage, than there
are who now go to the church of England every Sunday. And I think that tells us something
about the way this country is changing at the beginning of the 21st century. When I
pointed that out to the officers of the CPI, I was told I sounded very liberal, so I was
able to reassure the gentlemen, because they all were at the CPI, that in fact, if current
trends continue within two years time, there will be more people going to work in this
country everyday for the Stonewall Diversity Champion than are actually trades unionists.
For some reason that brought a smile to the faces of the gentlemen of the offices the
CPI and, but it is a demonstration for the fact we don't kind of regard this as a political
activity with a capital or even necessarily a small fee. We regard it, as a way of unlocking
value within these workplaces. So now, I'll just say something if I may, about three or
four of the key interventions that we've developed or engaged in through our workplace activities
in a--in an attempt to help unlock and some of that potential from workforces. I mean,
one of them which sounds stunningly obvious and to people who are as cutting edge as all
of you are, in terms of what you do at work, the idea of setting up and publishing a lesbian
and gay recruitment guide for graduates four years ago and we're about to publish our fifth,
it doesn't sound radical at all. But in fact, we've been surprised at the huge amount of
engagement we've had from people--undergraduates and post graduates who are about to qualify--because
for the first time they've had access to a resource which has indicated to them, which
employers might take them seriously and I have to say, I find that a wholly healthy
development. There's no doubt, whatsoever, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, most gay
people would never have dreamt of going to an employer and saying, will you actually
support my personal and professional development if I'm gay? I think actually, quite a lot
of women and people from back to minorities and communities wouldn't have done that either.
Of course, happily, younger people nowadays are much more assertive about what they want
from their workplace, and which quite often they're going to commit, not just huge hours
but actually many years of their working lives. And we're delighted that young lesbian, and
gay, and bisexual students are now prepared to say to employers, you know, we don't want
to be assured we're going to be treated differently, we just want to be assured we will be treated
with the same respect as everyone else in your workplace. And I have to say, one of
the most interesting feedbacks we've had from the university career service in the last
18 months, which now distributes that guide, is they have actually found young heterosexual
women using the Stonewall recruitment guide too, because they acknowledge that so many
employers, precisely 30 years after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act, have kind of
learned to talk the talk around gender and indeed race. No employers would say, we don't
really do anything around women and you know, if you're a women, we want take you all to
career development where your work are valued very seriously, but employers who are prepared
in 2007, 2008 and 2009, to be saying, we take the issues of sexual orientation seriously,
one of the most tricky issues to deal with in some workplaces, that gives a signal. It's
a benchmark to lots of programs and potential recruits, that this is a sensitive and progressive
workplace. I mentioned another--one of our interventions, which I'm sad Google has not
yet engaged in but that was the introduction of an annual workplace equality days to showcase
the 100 or 150 best employers for gay people in Britain. And again, we know that is used
widely by potential recruits. Not to found out if they will somehow be celebrated for
being gay if they turn up in the a workplace, but to find out if they are actually considering
working somewhere, that feels reasonably chilled, and relaxed, and supportive about people regardless
of difference. One of the hugely positive and exciting developments for us in that piece
of work every year was that for the publication of this year's set of things, published in
January. So, next year's will come out in six months' time. For the publication of this
year's index, we, for the first time allowed and indeed encouraged employees of participating
organizations to personally give testimony about how they felt their employer performed
in terms of providing a supportive environment for lesbian and gay staff. And the thing we
were, I'm fond to say, hugely delighted about, as any of you who've—who have ever done
diagnostic research will also know the feeling we're hugely relieved about was for the first
time we evidenced that staff were genuinely expressing levels of higher satisfaction of
work in those workplaces; was scoring well in our index, in other words, in the workplaces
that were doing this sort of things that we're encouraging them to do. And those of you who
specializes working in the area of the kind of people, human capital, will know that that
actually is a hugely important feature of any of this kind of work. To be able to actually
demonstrate, it's not just generally a good thing, which involves compliance with a legal
framework, to be able to demonstrate that relatively low level investment in some of
these issues leads to demonstrably higher levels of staff satisfaction, is actually
hugely, hugely important. And we were delighted to see that happening. The third area of interventions
I'll mention is becoming more important is our work around leadership. We've developed
with some people from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, a leadership program
for next generation lesbian and gay leaders. We're actually moving it this year from Kennedy
to Ashbridge and the reason that is critically important for us is two-fold: First, we do
take the few, that people who are gay and lesbian who want--hold on one moment, I don't
want to cause you any distress, we will get there. We do take the few, the people who
are gay and who may have unique skills, alright. It doesn't make them better than people who
aren't gay. Just is it doesn't make people who are black better than people who are white
as employees. But we are mindful that actually people who come from minority communities,
whether they be a black, or Asian, or lesbian and gay have grown up, not only knowing how
to engage with people who are different from them but with an imperative of having to engage
with people who are different from them. And in many 21st century workplace is that, it's
a hugely useful tool. And I can certainly say, I mean, one of the first weeks, I was
at Stonewall, Larry Hirst, who was then in charge of IBM in this country said to me,
he was very--even refreshingly talented, I think it is something from he said about IBM
around some of these issues. He was very talented, but 30 years ago, an ideal recruit to IBM
was, whether they admitted it or not, straight white man, who have two children and played
rugby at university. And the reason for that was, 90 percent of the people that guy would
work with, would be straight white men, who have two kids and they played rugby at university.
And probably 90 percent of the clients he would come across would be straight white
men, who had two kids and they played rugby in university. So, it made perfect commercial
settings for them to be recruiting people who felt comfortable in that kind of environment,
and of course, as Larry acknowledges and then, and certainly, everyone here does, the reality
in 2001, is that any recruit to IBM operating global business that actually has got a hugely
varied workforce, is not going to get on terribly well, if there's only a small global staff
they can engage with. And similarly, anyone working externally for IBM, which is almost
every single one of their staff is actually operating in the global market, where they
will be dealing with people who are profoundly different in every way, on almost every--on
almost everyday of the week. So, there are opportunities, for we believe, for leaders,
for next generation leaders to develop some of their personal skills based on learning,
and lived experience of their own lives. Which as I say, does not make them better than heterosexuals,
it just means, possibly they have a skill base that can be developed or enhanced more
quickly on that--on that basis. And I--I do just say, the other reason, we are doing work
on next generation leadership, is actually precisely because of the work we've been doing
around the matter of recruitment. And we have seen in the last two years alone, a significant
change of sentiment among young people, among the--in the recruitment market who are now
saying, well, we don't--if we go somewhere, we expect they will be aware of the law, we
expect they'll treat us with respect, the real test for us about whether we would be
supported and nurtured if we are lesbian and gay and indeed--if we're black or Asian, the
real test of that for an employer, is when an employer can say, I can guarantee you that
your career progression will be exactly the same as anyone else's. And the only way employers
can demonstrate that authentically of course, is by saying, all you need to do is look at
the top of our business, half of the most senior people are women, 20 percent of them
are from a black nation, 10 percent of them are--are openly lesbian and gay and feel they
are able to be open as lesbian and gay within our corporate environment. And it is those
businesses that are starting to develop competitive advantage in some of these quite tight labor
markets, because, as I said, they can demonstrate authentically, not just that they believe
in supporting people from all sorts of backgrounds within their workplace, but the people have
been supported and helped progress in their careers. And I've just mentioned, finding
relation to workplace, something we've started doing and we've only started doing because
no one else have ever done it and that is research, not just the kind of--the slightly
more diagnostic stuff around workplace equality index and performance. But actually for the
first time, and actually last year with the support of IBM around productivity and we
are starting to develop an evidence base, which of course is perfectly intuitive. It's
not actually rocket science, we are starting to develop an evidence base, which proves
about conclusively for the first time, about when people can be completely open and relaxed
at work, when people can be themselves, they perform better. And as I said, that is something
that we've known for some years, it's one of those challenges to convert those sorts
of assertions into--into the tougher hard evidence, we are now clear the--we're beginning
to see that. And I will just mention, if I may, one other area of our work at present,
which is important to us, because I think there's a significant connected in this, and
that is around schools and homophobic bullying. Now, the reason for--as a connection, is two-fold.
First, of course, the reality in schools is exactly the same as in workplaces. If people--if
young people who are growing up, feel they are able to be themselves, they are more likely
to be productive and successful. And we are actually in the next couple of years going
to start looking at some of those correlations around children and young people in secondary
schools. But the other reason we think, that this work in schools, challenging homophobic
bullying is terribly important, is that quite frankly, they are important, not just beyond
the services, I'm not saying the gentleman from the CPI, other employers who say, "Oh,
we don't, you know, like people being homophobic, or sexist, or racist but they arrived out
of our education system, with those prejudices and we are somehow being expected to challenge
those prejudices once they've entered the workplace." But it seems to us it's perfectly
proper that those prejudices should be challenged as early as they emerge and certainly our
educational program which was set up about four years ago and is now supported by a coalition
of 70 national organizations, ranging from children's charities to teaching unions. That
program has actually uncovered some deeply disturbing evidence. We did the first ever
survey, a couple of year ago of young people growing up lesbian and gay in British secondary
schools and that found that 60% of them, more than 60% are--were regularly the victims of
homophobic bullying. A third of that is, one in five of that group of young people were
regularly the victims of physical homophobic bullying, and perhaps the most shocking of
all, a third of those incident of bullying were actually being perpetrated by adults
in the schools that those young people were attending. And some of the young people we've
meet—on our first residential program, starting in Thursday for young lesbian and gay people
to help them develop their own programs, to challenging homophobic bullying in the schools.
But some of those young people we've meet have been hugely arresting. And I came across
a guy, a couple of years ago now who was at a school in west London and he said, well,
finally, finally after two years, the school have done something to stop him being assaulted
at going to and from the school. And the school in fact has not dealt with the perpetrators.
They had provided him with a security guard to accompany him home at the end of the school
day. And last year, we came across a girl who was at a Faith school in the West Country
and she perhaps incautiously have said to one of her teachers, at the age 14, she thought
she might be a lesbian and when that girl contacted us that she had--since that disclosure
being required to sit outside the changing rooms at the beginning and end of sports lessons
while the normal children have got changed. And we are certainly alive to the fact, that
if those sorts of prejudices aren't oppressed and challenged in schools, then of course,
it's no surprise that people grow up, validated in a belief that that not just abusing but
attacking lesbian and gay people is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. And in the last three
years alone, we've seen the murder of Jody Dobrowski in South London; we've seen the
murder of Michael Holzer in Liverpool, last year. And there was an incident, six or seven
months ago, a young man, Ollie Helmer in East London who was attacked with a broken bottle
by a man screaming homophobic abuse and that bottle severed his spinal cord and he will
never work again. And that took place in what is meant to be one of the most tolerant, diverse
and progressive cities in this country. So we are, under no illusions about the challenges
that still face us. But we are driven and we continue to be driven by our vision at
Stonewall, we do have a vision of a Britain that one day, every single person will not
just be entitled to fair treatment and respect but will be afforded fair treatment and respect.
And we have vision of a Britain where one day every single child will grow up to secure
every ounce of their potential, and we have a vision of a Britain where one day, no human
life will be overshadowed by hatred, or prejudice, or fear. And I know that there are some of
you who have already helped us, there are many of you, in the future who will help us
in building that Britain within our lifetimes and we're very grateful to you indeed. I was
told to talk for 40 minutes and it's now 20 to two.
>> Quite on the nail, thank you very much for that. Is there anybody got any questions?
>> I suppose there are, like, a gay soldier, I mean, what is your opinion what is your
opinion on the [INDISTINCT] within the army today?
>> SUMMERSKILL: Well, I--I mean, it's interesting actually, the gays in the military thing is
something where some gay people is—during an address a few years ago, I was asked to
list on how things are going, and I mentioned gays in the military and dear old Peter Thatcher
was sitting in the audience and starting shouting out, shame, shame and you know, I have to
say our view of the gays in the military, it was simply that gay people should have
the right to serve their country, if they wish to do so, in exactly the same way as
everyone else. And certainly since we've been doing, I mean, the Royal Navy was the first
of the armed service we started to work with. Three and half years ago, the Navy, we started
it at the beginning of last year. I think there is no reason, I'm like, a very good
friend of Peter; I'm always not making grandiose claims about evidence. But I think there is
no reason to think that lesbian and gay people are not as widely represented in the armed
services already as they are in wider--in the wider population. This in fact is an awful
lot who have never--have never--not able to come out and an awful lot of them of course
in those particular occupations challenge some of the preconceptions about what lesbian
and gay people look like. And I think one of the most difficult things we've dealt with
and we are aware that there are currently lesbian and gay personnel serving in--still
in Iraq. There are some in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, in theaters of active service. And--well,
I think something we are alive to is the fact that quite often and it's not unique for uniform
services. They still find it extremely difficult to come out, if you work in a small cohort
of people for 15 years and never being, you know, in which you do get put in and quite
pressured. So, even more pressured than doing a pitch to a client and to actually be able
to turn around after all that time, and say, well, listen, I never told you; can still
be really challenging for them. But something I'm, you know, really chaffed about, is we
are aware that within the last few months, there have been personnel from the U.S. Navy
at Fort Smith, talking to people about the work we've been doing. And I think you can
probably draw your own conclusions about the reason they're there and why they think that
that might be a sensible thing to be preparing for.
>> You mentioned the church, [INDISTINCT] a few times. As an active biblical Christian
that's sort of interesting, do you have any sense of how much of the opposition that you
run into, at least claims to be faith based and how much active support you are getting
from all the goings of the church? >> SUMMERSKILL: I mean, there's no doubt whatsoever,
a significant part of the opposition to equality in this country, and actually quite often,
the significant party opposition to equality for women in this country has been faith based.
However, as with so many people who claim to speak on behalf of large sums of other
people we are not convinced there is the evidence for that, and certainly, we know, I mean,
we did a piece of research about a year ago, into the views of people of faith around Britain
about homosexuality and we very deliberately, though we were asked to, didn't kind of go
from to a bit research to say, well, if you read the Koran in this way, you know, it'll
be gay and if you read the Bible in this way, there's nothing wrong with homosexuality,
because that's--we know that the opponents of equality aren't susceptible to those arguments.
So, we could package them slightly, more elegantly, it wouldn't actually make any difference.
What we did was going toward--though focus groups across, actually, the north of England,
two groups of Christians and Sikhs, and Muslims. And almost all of them were crystal clear
that they were significantly less homophobic than, you know, their so called faith leaders.
And I am reminded, I mean, it's a very sensitive subject and it's a territory that's often
not pushed out, because within, you know, kind of British public realm, all you have
to do is say, I'm a Bishop and somehow that is meant to entitle you to be taken more seriously
than someone else who's wandering off the street wearing a pink frock. And we have to
be careful about it, but, you know, I think it is important about the challenge and I
know, I mean, at least, reveals to me to be real sadder than last year, I did watch probably
the first four or five days of Big Brother, I rented it this year, not like the rest of
the country. I've—not sure which to, or watching none at all, and on--at the end of
I think it was the first week of Big Brother last year. There was a woman in the Big Brother
house who got terribly upset, because they had participant in this guy called Mohamed,
who wore a dress and she's taunting off and she said that absolutely ridiculous, we're
Muslims, Mohamed, you know, you mustn't do this, people would think, you're homosexual.
Now, this woman have been drinking repeatedly, she--I'm--use my words carefully here, did
not seem to be a stranger to the details of sexual congress, even if presumably she had
never had it herself. She certainly dressed immodestly, she smoke and she swore like a
trooper. I have great difficulty in thinking about her objections to Mohamed wearing a
dress was really motivated by her being a devout Muslim, you know, I am--clearly viewed
her objections to Mohamed wearing a dress as simply, she's a bit homophobic. And I do
think it's important but that sort of thing is challenged and you have to challenge it
in the right way, and certainly I wouldn't, you know, single out Muslims for one moment,
I mean, like Christians, you know, we shouldn't--there's no hierarchy of prejudice and indeed the people
who've seek to be prejudicial or to demonstrate their prejudice against minority communities
in this country, it's a virtue. Usually, very keen to say, no, I'm more homophobic than--than
the mere chief rabbi, and but the simple fact is, there is an awful lot of homophobia in
this country that is kind of dressed up as religious--as a religious belief. And you
know, we only have to look and again, I'm going through those stuff that people go to
before in Leviticus but, I mean, you know, Bishops' wives are not cross examined whether
they're having sex once they've ceased menstruating, which is as serious--a failing as far as Leviticus
is concerned is homosexuality, yet miraculously, you know, we're just told about some little
bit of history and it's traditionally would be taken too seriously in the old testament
is indicative, except of course, when it's not.
>> In light of the question, in terms of kind of like organized [INDISTINCT] to legislation,
is that Bishop Blair [ph]? >> SUMMERSKILL: I don't think it's Bishop—I
mean I think there are--you know, there are some bishops who still sits in the House of
Lords. I mean if I was running a failing business, I would be encouraged to go back and attend
to my customers rather than disappear to London for three days or a month. But nevertheless,
some of it is the more extreme bishops, you know, some of it is on the fundamentalist
of all sorts, you know, who don't like homosexuals. And that's, you know, that's the reality.
And I mean, one of the interesting things has happened in the last 10 years. As I think
they've, you know, and you only need to look at these sorts of things that someone like
Lord Tebbit, nowadays, what he says about homosexuals. A lot of these people have learned
to just speak in a slightly more well-mannered way because if they were saying nowadays,
the sort of things they felt it was perfectly acceptable in the same public domain 10 years
ago, 20 years ago, people would say, you know, I think it would be odd. So they've learned
to be slightly more elegant about ventilating their prejudices. I think, exactly, the same
is true actually, around, you know, lots of issues that involve women, you know, that
people. You'd never get anyone nowadays now saying, "Oh, we don't want women working in
this office." What they'll do is they'll, you know, address the topic and with all the
concerns about career commitment, or are they're going to stay around and, you know, they take
time off and all that kind of stuff. So it doesn't mean that the underlying prejudice
among some small [INDISTINCT] is not still very strong.
>> You mentioned you work with some organization that were 90% straight white male and--in
their demographic, how do you engage to increase [INDISTINCT] that, that like what happen [INDISTINCT]
to any members? >> SUMMERSKILL: Like--I'm not sure I mentioned
organizations nowadays are 90% straight white men but--and I think and one of the core principles
of the work we do around people is that it's actually about diversity in difference right
across the board. Now, that's when we, you know, and we went and delivered strategies
around sexual orientation. But we actually think you have to get that understanding in
the first place. And one of the reasons for that is precisely--that actually, it's about
respecting all sorts of differences. And I can say, one of the most interesting things
and partly, actually historically being one of the businesses that are happier to share
some of their internal stuff externally. One of the most interesting things--and I found
in my first couple years in work, also in Barkley's, where they started stratifying
a number of cohorts in their workforce, including sexual orientation. And we encourage them
to ask question, do you feel comfortable at work, because there are quite among them who
wouldn't quite articulate if they think that they are the victims of homophobia but actually
they still don't feel that comfortable at work. So we introduced a lot of question about
work [indistinct] for satisfaction. One of the really fascinating resources to that research
is that Barkley's pick up a cohort of straight men, who said, they didn't feel comfortable
at work. And when they did drill them down with their permission, and they say to the
staff, "Can we come back to you and I'll ask you details?" They said, yes, they did. They
found that this group of men, were men who wanted to take advantage of family friendly
working which lots of lots of women in Barkley's were doing. But when they did it, they got
picked on to use—and so, and it's—so, women could say, I'm going to work eight till
three and everyone says, that's fantastic, but the man who said the same was made to
feel deeply, deeply uncomfortable. And that, you know, seems to be some perfect example
of how taking approach is right across the board about accommodating people whatever
their difference or however they want to deliver their work, is actually one way of binding
in, commitments and understanding right across the piece too. There's one more.
>> I just want to ask, what can we do? Is there--are there--[INDISTINCT]?
>> SUMMERSKILL: Well, I think one of--I mean, one of the object--I was, because I was thinking
it's easy to sometimes to just--you can do the--we must all do the best and make the
best effort and the best of all possible worlds and it makes everyone feel very good. And
then they go in, you know, I'm not sure what that means. I'm--I actually think, one of
the challenges organization is to say, you know, are we going to be in the position in
five years time when we can say six% of our highest paid staff are openly lesbian and
gay. And actually start having that organizational discussion and because that's a clear, you
know, clear objective. I mean, the six percent we use for the level the lesbian-gay population
because of the treasury attributaries. Now the use six%, they used, again, some of you
will know this end result whatsoever, whether it was 10% or 2% or 20%, I found the moment
that you say, that's what treasury attributaries say. Those people decide we'd rather not go
and have a discussion and we think or sense is that's was about the level, that's probably,
recently accurate. So will we be in the position at Google and in five years time, we can say
6% of our hundred--six of our hundred most senior people are completely open and relaxed
that they're and encouraging other people to follow their career paths. And the way
we'll get there, you know, in terms of practical support in, is many--I mean, we've been mentoring
at various level of since the very--is a very useful tool and it's one way of--we're developing
at the moment. So the gentleman… >> [INDISTINCT]
>> And when, when was the moment [INDISTINCT]? >> SUMMERSKILL: Well, it will--being requested…
>> And INDISTINCT] that need [INDISTINCT] nevertheless. [INDISTINCT]…
>> SUMMERSKILL: Well, because it was last year and the year before and this year is
not due until the 5th of September. And I do just say, that, you know, there are some
organizations and I don't know what local decisions are taken. There are some organizations
where there's a sensitivity about doing it because of what had become known through faith.
>> They've done it in the States, I know… >> SUMMERSKILL: Oh, exactly, exactly. Although
here I have to say our index here is slightly more challenging than the HRC on--and of which
enables you to get to 100 percent and then everyone says, oh, isn't that fantastic. I
mean it is more actually challenging. But one of the reasons we feel completely comfortable,
I mean, if someone is 95th in that index, there's still 95th of a group of a hundred
and we don't do the kind of naming and shaming at the HRC on a dozen Americans. We just ensure
that it works in terms of getting the organization to change, but you can come 95th and still
be celebrated. And the other thing people get sensitive about is they do move around.
They actually went down a little bit last year. The reason for that is quite simple,
that the external labor market is constantly changing and actually improving. So, if employers
continue to do what they were doing last year or the year before, then actually relative
terms, they will almost certainly become less preferred. And I do say--and I have to say
this briefly, it's one of the things we've only often found with public sector, the employers.
That there's a kind of sense in the public sector, certainly local government, oh, you
know, we were getting beaten up for doing equal opportunities 20 years ago. So we must
be impressive. The problem is there are not awful a lot of this public sector who haven't
really move forward in the last 20--they're doing exactly what we were doing 20 years
ago, when it was right here and when it really was radical and difficult and challenging.
But if all they're doing is what we were doing a decade ago or two decades ago, then actually
in comparison with an awful lot of other employers that they don't think about—and they don't
look about further. Now, I'm mindful that those of you who will, who now ask and notice
too, that at Stonewall, we always intend to deliver on time, on budget and above specification,
so in order to meet this first of those KPIs, I need to stop now.