Media watchdog Ofcom quits Stonewall's Diversity Champions LGBTQ+ programme

The organisation issued a statement yesterday, announcing their withdrawal from the LGBTQ+ inclusion scheme due partly to worries of 'perceived bias'.

Hands holding up a Pride flag in the wind

UK media watchdog, Ofcom, is removing itself from the Diversity Champions programme which is run by LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall. Over 900 organisations in the UK are signed up to the scheme, and the organisers describe it as “the leading employers’ programme for ensuring all LGBTQ+ staff are free to be themselves in the workplace”.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, 25 August, Ofcom cited two reasons for their withdrawal from the scheme. 

“First, having laid the foundations that will help us improve support for LGBTQ+ colleagues, we’re confident that we can move ahead positively, without continuing with the Diversity Champions programme,” the statement begins.

The second reason given, is that Stonewall and its policy positions has been on the receiving end of “significant scrutiny”, and Ofcom “have considered whether our relationship with Stonewall poses a conflict or risk of perceived bias.”

The statement closes by saying “our commitment to supporting the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ people is as strong as ever,” and that Ofcom will continue to participate in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.

According to the BBC, Stonewall have responded to the news by stating: “We fully respect Ofcom’s decision and will continue to work with them in their role as the UK’s communication regulator.

“It is sad, however, that involvement in a programme that supports an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees should be in any way regarded as an unimpartial act,” they added.

“We’re very proud of the work we’ve done with Ofcom and wish them the best in their ongoing efforts to support all of their LGBTQ+ employees.”

Ofcom’s decision to leave, along with the media coverage surrounding it, has been widely criticised by members of the LGBTQ+ community. One particular article discussing the departure, written by the BBC, is facing backlash for misgendering trans people, along with spotlighting a transphobic organisation.

If anything, this controversy highlights the need for schemes such as Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme even moreso, as further education is vital to achieve true LGBTQ+ inclusion in various organisations.

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