Every year, the month of June is celebrated as Pride Month, during which people around the globe come together to celebrate the progress that has been made in LGBTQ+ rights, and to recognise that there is still work to be done.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MI5 will be celebrating Pride Month virtually. However, that hasn’t stopped our LGBTQ+ diversity network from planning a raft of digital events for our staff.
Throughout Pride Month, MI5 will be flying the Progress Pride Flag above our London headquarters. The flag was designed in 2018 to better recognise the trans* community, LGBTQ+ people of colour, and to honour the lives of those who died due to AIDS. For us, the flag signifies our support for all members of the LGBTQ+ community throughout the UK.
In a message to staff, the Director General of MI5 Ken McCallum said:
"I am pleased we will be flying the Progress Pride Flag above our headquarters throughout June in celebration of Pride Month. All of us in MI5 will be joining LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies in celebrating their contributions here and elsewhere, including contributions in the past. As we learn from progress made and work still to do, I want to renew our commitment to making our organisation a fully inclusive place to work for LGBTQ+ colleagues and for all."
Members of our staff have also been sharing what Pride and flying the Progress Pride flag means to them. One member of staff shared that:
“It is wonderful to see the Progress Pride Flag flying over our headquarters. I’m proud of how far we’ve come as an organisation in recognising and supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and the work we are continuing to do to make sure that MI5 is inclusive for everyone. The addition of the stripes to signify racial, cultural and ethnic diversity in LGBTQ+ communities is a powerful one. I identify as gay and mixed race, and part of my heritage is linked to a country which doesn’t have the same approach to LGBTQ+ rights or protections as the UK. By flying the flag over our headquarters this month, I feel that MI5 is making it clear that everyone’s rights are important. I feel proud to work somewhere that is so open and forthcoming about this.”
Another staff member shared that:
“January 2021 marked the first time I looked in the mirror and saw that the person looking back at me wasn't a woman. In that same year, MI5 will fly the Progress Pride flag during Pride month, and to say that means the world to me is an understatement. We’re a secretive sort of place – we would be forgiven, I think, for not outwardly making a statement of the validity of trans* identities. Instead, MI5 has chosen to send a signal telling all their LGBTQ+ staff that they are welcome and that they belong. Here is a place where my identity isn’t just tolerated, but celebrated.”
If you’d like to find out more about the importance that MI5 places on having a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive working environment, or you’d like to know more about MI5’s diversity networks, visit our Diversity page.