Focus: Campaign of the week - Charity highlights rights of gay staff

Graham Willgoss,

Stonewall has produced a viral marketing and advertising campaign to encourage young people to develop an understanding of employment equality regulations.

Discrimination at work. It's so over features the stereotype of the bigoted manager. Complete with cigar and 1970s jacket and tie, he extends his hand towards the camera as if to welcome a new employee with the caption: "You don't have to be homophobic to work here, but it helps."

The accompanying text reads "it's 2006, not 1976", and encourages employees to visit Stonewall's website "if your workmates are still being called 'poofter' or 'dyke'". The charity's website includes a section explaining the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, which ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment. It offers employees information on the regulations protecting them at work, what their rights are and advice on what to do if they experience problems.

"It's vital that everyone has this information," said Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall. "We want to help employees who risk being discriminated against at work - from those denied the benefits available to their straight colleagues to those harassed and bullied."

The campaign has been supported by the Department of Trade & Industry in order to promote the regulations to all lesbian and gay employees, particularly what it describes as the "hard-to-reach" audience of young people in the labour market.

"We used humour because we wanted to attract the attention of young people," said Andy Forrest, communications officer at Stonewall. "But we also wanted to emphasise that homophobic behaviour at work is now against the law."

He said Stonewall was aiming to reach 426,000 people through marketing, advertising and hits on its website. A further 3.2 million employees will be targeted with emails and postcards through the Trades Union Congress and as members of the charity's Diversity Champions programme.

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