The rainbow flag has been flying over a number of the Square Mile’s landmarks this week to mark the City’s support for LGBTQ+ communities, in celebration of London Pride. On Monday I joined fellow Councillors, Aldermen, staff and representatives of Pride networks from City businesses, the Armed Forces as well as our own City of London Police, for a flag raising ceremony led by the Lord Mayor Peter Estlin.
This Saturday staff and elected members from the City will march alongside the City of London Police in the Pride parade in central London to send a clear and very visible message of support for London and the UK’s LGBTQ+ communities. This is the second time the Corporation has officially taken part in the event, and the third year the Pride Flag is flying above Guildhall.
I’m extremely proud that I’ve worked together with other Councillors to ensure that the City has set up – to quote the Lord Mayor – “a new tradition”, to as fellow Councillor Ed Lord said, “celebrate the growing diversity in the Square Mile whilst also standing shoulder to shoulder with those working in our communities.
An interim report by the Chancellor’s Financial Services Skills Taskforce, chaired by Mark Hoban supported by the City of London, recently identified a series of major skills challenges the sector is facing. This includes the lack of diversity at all levels and problems with the City’s perceived values and culture. I’m determined we burnish our image on diversity by taking action, being proactive and taking important symbolic steps such as the annual Pride Flag raising ceremony.
The City Corporation has expanded its involvement in LGBTQ+ projects over the last past few years. We now host an annual Pride reception at Guildhall and we are in the process of becoming a diversity champion through the nationwide LGBTQ+ workplace initiative run by Stonewall.
In addition, the City Corporation has awarded 16 grants worth a total of £1,5m benefitting the LGBTQ+ community, through our charitable arm, the City Bridge Trust’s ‘Investing in Londoners’ programme.
More needs to be done, and we can never be complacent, but it is great to be able to lead this change as a Councillor representing the Ward of Cheap in the City of London.