Staff Profile: Mel Parrott
We asked Domestic Bursar Mel Parrott about her work as a Stonewall Role Model on behalf of the University of Oxford.
What does it mean to be a Stonewall Role Model?
Role models are important to me because I believe it’s essential to have openly LGBT+ people at the University so that colleagues can see this is a safe and welcoming environment.
I believe it is the duty of those who can stand up for themselves and others, and those who can testify to the positive experiences they have had in their own workplace, to do so. That is why I joined the Stonewall Role Models programme. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable and able to be themselves, welcomed and secure in their daily working environments and within the University as a whole. We know that people perform better at work when they feel happy and able to be themselves.
How did you become a Stonewall Role Model and how long have you been doing it for?
I have been a member of the University staff LGBT+ network since its inception many years ago. In 2016 the University EDU worked with Stonewall to run a Stonewall Role Model Course which was held in Oxford for the first time that year. I was curious to find out what I could do that would be relevant and effective for the LGBT+ community and our allies in the workplace and to explore ideas for making this happen so I applied for, and gained, a place on the course. The course gave me the tools to encourage colleagues to be themselves in the workplace and also to reflect on how we can become more effective and inclusive. Since taking the role model course I have also become a trained University Harassment advisor and mentor helping with LGBT+ cases as well as others. Again I believe it is important to be visible at a time when it may help to have someone to talk to who may be better placed to understand issues.
Why is Stonewall, and being associated with its work, important in the workplace?
Stonewall is Europe’s largest lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) charity and the University of Oxford is part of its Diversity Champion Programme. This is an employers’ programme which works to ensure all LGBT staff are accepted without exception in the workplace. Oxford has year on year improved our rating in the Stonewall index and I believe this is related to increased awareness and training. Anything which can be done to create a secure and welcoming workplace for all should be done and Stonewall is a valued ally in this, their worldwide presence lends gravitas.
What opportunities are there for Kellogg staff to get involved?
The University has a growing number of LGBT+ Allies who have attended training with either Stonewall or the Oxford Learning Institute. Taking inspiration from the Stonewall Allies programme, the Oxford Learning Institute developed an LGBT+ Allies workshop. The workshop aims to give non-LGBT+ individuals an opportunity to explore what it means to be an ally, time to ask questions and practical advice on how they can be an effective ally. If you are interested in attending the workshop and becoming an Ally, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The OLI has also developed a LGBT+ role model training programme for staff who identify as LGBT+, the training provides individuals an opportunity, in a safe and supportive space, to explore what it means to be an LGBT+ role model, to identify potential barriers and ways to overcome them. If anyone is interested in taking the training the contact details are the same as for the allies programme.