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 reaffirmed his commitment to making sure that workers are “free of harassment” and “able to be entirely themselves” when he met LGBT+ business owners in a roundtable discussion on Thursday.
He was joined by shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds, who asserted that inclusive business practises are “good for working people, good for business, and good for our economy as a whole”.
Sir Keir bemoaned the “cross-party consensus” that formerly existed on LGBT+ rights breaking down in recent years and pledged that Labour’s policies will be characterised by “dignity, respect, and inclusion.”
This strategy, according to the party leader, will also be crucial to Labour’s efforts to boost the economy, which “has to be growth that’s reflected everywhere and with everyone,” he told business executives.
In his speech to the gathering in central London, he vowed a “different Labour Party” that would go into the next general election looking to “fight on the economic.” He said: “In the past, the Labour Party has occasionally gone into elections wishing to shy away from the economy. We intend to confront it squarely.
According to the party, inclusive businesses can increase employee retention rates and foster higher-level collaboration to generate higher share prices, market valuations, and cash flows.
However, it cited Deloitte research that implies up to a third of employees may be considering switching to a more LGBT-friendly business.
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.”