Army LGBT Conference celebrates LGBT talent

Soldiers from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community met with those in the chain of command last week for the third annual Army LGBT Conference.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Cultivating LGBT Talent’ to address the fact that there are few visibly LGBT soldiers or officers in senior roles. This is despite recent statistics from Phase 1 and 2 recruits indicating that, in 2013, around one in six female soldiers joining their units is LGBT.

“The concern is that LGBT staff leave before achieving senior positions, or that senior soldiers and officers exist but feel unable to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity”, explains Major Damian Jenkins, Chair of the Army LGBT Forum.

“We don’t know how big the Army LGBT community is. However, the first statistics collected by the Army on gender identity and sexual orientation showed that 1.5 per cent of men and 15 per cent of women leaving the Phase 2 training were lesbian, gay or bisexual. This means that around one in six female soldiers joining their new units in 2013 is LGBT.”

“Conference sought to educate LGBT soldiers and officers about the career pathways and training resources available to them. This should help them successfully manage their own careers and increase their chances of making it to the top.”

Among the 102 attendees were commanding officers, adjutants, and representatives from training establishments. They came to learn about unconscious biases and the effect these have on the promotion potential of LGBT soldiers and officers.

“We each harbour subtle prejudices, ones we may not realise we have, and these can influence the decisions we make. By learning about these processes line managers can seek out their own hidden biases and eliminate them.

“The attendance of those in the chain of command demonstrates a commitment to good management practices in the Army. The Army aims to create a working environment in which everyone can be authentic about themselves – because authenticity improves operational effectiveness,” concludes Major Jenkins.

The next LGBT conference is for all services in the Armed Forces, and will be organised by the Royal Navy at MoD Main Building on June 28th.