Sainsbury's Nine Elms store

Sainsbury’s has debuted on Stonewall’s annual Workplace Equality Index 2020, which ranks employers from across the public, private and third sectors on how LGBT-inclusive their workplaces are. 

The supermarket is the highest-ranking retailer and only grocery retailer on the list, coming in at number 71. 

The lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity’s annual audit of employers’ approach to LGBT+ inclusion collects more than 109,000 anonymous responses from employees on their experience of Britain’s workplace culture and diversity. 

Stonewall said this year’s top 100 was the most competitive ever, with 503 employers vying for a spot. 

”We want Sainsbury’s to be a place where people love to work and shop, so we’re delighted to be the leading retailer in this year’s Stonewall Workplace Equality Index,” said Kevin O’Byrne, Sainsbury’s chief financial officer and board sponsor for LGBT+ inclusion.

“We’re an inclusive employer and our LGBT+ colleague network has gone from strength to strength. We have also introduced a policy designed to give further support to our trans colleagues and continue to work with colleagues across our business to identify more opportunities to engage and educate on LGBT+ inclusion.” 

Stonewall research showed one in seven LGBT employees (14%) don’t feel able to be themselves at work and almost one in five LGBT people (18%) have experienced discrimination when applying for jobs because of their identity. 

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We’ve significantly grown our LGBT+ colleague network in the last year. We’ve also invested a lot of time developing how we approach LGBT+ inclusion and made sure education is a priority across the business.” 

Sanjay Sood-Smith, Stonewall executive director of workplace and community programmes, added: “It’s fantastic to see such a major high-street retailer represented in the Top 100 this year. [It is] playing a huge role in improving the lives of LGBT people and should be very proud of its work.

“We still don’t live in a world where everyone is able to be themselves in the workplace, as we know more than a third of LGBT staff hide who they are at work. By taking steps to make their workplaces supportive and welcoming of all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, these organisations are bringing us closer to a world where everyone is accepted without exception.” 

Newcastle City Council was named number one in the Stonewall list for 2020, followed by Gentoo Group and Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service. 

Stonewall’s Top 100 is compiled from submissions to the Workplace Equality Index, a benchmarking tool used by employers to assess their achievements and progress on LGBT+ equality in the workplace.

Each organisation must demonstrate their expertise in 10 areas of employment policy and practice, including networking groups, senior leadership, procurement and how well they’ve engaged with the LGBT+ community.