The Rainbow Project published research in 2011 that found 1 in 4 people concealed their sexual orientation at work and 1 in 3 believed that their sexual orientation would impact their chances of progressing at work.

In 2016 updated research that included trans participants found that 1 in 5 LGB&/T people were not ‘out’ to anyone in their workplace and 1 in 4 believed that their sexual orientation/gender identity would have a negative impact on their ability to progress at work.  LGB&/T people living in a rural area were twice as likely to believe this would be the case than their counterparts living in an urban area.

The Department of Employment & Learning in Northern Ireland funded The Rainbow Project for two years to work with employers across Northern Ireland to promote diversity and inclusion, offering free workshops cross-sectorally.  As a result of these workshops and the interest and will of particular employers who were seeking to move beyond risk mitigation and become employers of choice the Diversity Champions programme was set up.  A membership scheme designed to support and profile organisations and businesses embracing diversity in order to shape organisational culture, attract and retain talent, improve employee wellbeing and experience direct business benefits and support.

Diversity Champions NI is the first and only membership programme to be introduced for the public and private sector across Northern Ireland. The Diversity Champions NI programme allows organisations to be recognised as having robust
equality and diversity policies and practices in place as well as promoting a workplace culture where all staff can be themselves.

This includes demonstrating best practice in taking steps to ensure that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Trans (LGB&/T) employees can be themselves and open about who they are, with colleagues, clients and service users. The programme will assist employers to become more open and diverse, therefore making workplaces better for LGB&/T people. It will also ensure that your organisation is better able to recruit the best people and retain good talent, generally making you more competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.  

Becoming a Diversity Champion member will connect you to a network of individuals and organisations in Northern Ireland who are both business and civic leaders when it comes to LGB&/T inclusion and visibility.