Creating Psychologically Safe Workplaces for LGBTQ+ Colleagues – Key Takeaways from our Webinar

Our webinar, honouring February’s LGBTQ+ History Month, focused on what organisations can do to foster inclusion and psychological safety for its LGBTQ+ colleagues. At IDN, we were delighted to partner with the Rainbow Forum, a dedicated nuclear industry-wide LGBTQ+ employee network, on this webinar. The discussion prompted some valuable insights based on the experiences and knowledge of our speakers:

Webinar Host: Monica Mwanje (She / Her), Co-founder, Inclusion and Diversity in Nuclear

Panel facilitator: Kevin Humphreys (He / They), Co-founder of the Rainbow Forum and Mother of The House of Prism Europe, Jacobs LGBTQIA+ employee network


  • Nicola Summers (She / Her), Co-founder of the Rainbow Forum and Operations Coordinator at Jacobs
  • Pete Bryant (He / Him), Director of ESG and Radiation Strategy at Sizewell C and Chair of the Companies Pride (LGBTQ+) Network
  • Greg Turner-Smart (He / Him), Inclusion Manager at Rolls-Royce SMR

Here are some of the key takeaways from a lively discussion.

#1: “Change comes from just “being you””

What does psychological safety in the workplace mean to you personally, and I wonder has your experience changed during your career?

All panellists acknowledged that the working environment has changed over the years to become a more welcoming, inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ colleagues. Greg Turner-Smart noted that the general workplace culture at the start of his career in the early 2000s was horrendous and he felt he had to assimilate with his majority-straight-male colleagues in order to fit in – informed for the most part by leadership. For him, psychological safety is demonstrating the authenticity of self, and that everybody is treated the same.

Nicola Summers cited in particular that the events of 2020, with Covid and also the death of George Floyd, brought wider and much-needed discussions about inclusion across all intersections of the workforce. For her, psychological safety is about sharing more about herself in the workplace, instead of just being about her role and capabilities.

Pete Bryant highlighted psychological safety as a key component of the safety culture that is so strong in nuclear, and the need to challenge and change things for the better. Change can come from the idea of just “being you” – that leads to better mental wellbeing for the individual, meaning they can perform better in their job role.

Kevin Humphreys noted that there was a time where he, and presumably many other LGBTQ+ employees would need to mask and “codeswitch” to conceal their identity and that organisations have in recent years encouraged everybody to bring their authentic selves to work is a huge step in the right direction.

Psychological safety is different for each individual; but in essence it is a sense of belonging. In the workplace, it is about feeling safe and comfortable being their full authentic self to work.

#2: “There’s power in collaboration to create safe spaces.”

Can you share any examples of what an employer/organisation has done well that has helped you feel included and be your authentic self in the workplace?

Pete noted that the right culture (such as those he has experienced at EdF/Sizewell C) has been eye-opening, and the level of openness, and inclusive language compared to previous employers, has been brilliant. He can be truly himself. Plus all staff in Sizewell C sign up to the companies D&I Charter and automatically become part of all the companies Networks including the Pride Network, this helps to educate and normalise discussions about LGBTQ+ people in the workplace.

Kevin noted that self-expression from the younger generations coming into the workplace has been so inspiring.

Greg acknowledged that normalising conversations on LGBTQ+ topics is more commonplace. “I didn’t expect my civil partnership would be celebrated [like straight employees’ marriages] but mine was.” He also advised that best practice was to be an active participant and show support, be visible and take part! Fund employee groups and networks, and to widen your own network.

Nicola noted that leadership teams empowering actions such as creating the Rainbow Forum has been vital. Leadership has also encouraged outreach with wider networks; the wider supply chain, academia, schools, colleges etc. There’s power in collaboration to create safe spaces.

#3: “Conversations need to be informed from a place of trust”

Some employers might be nervous or unsure of how to open up a conversation with LGBTQ+ colleagues about how to understand and meet their needs in the workplace. Can you share any tips on how they can begin that conversation?

Greg talked about allowing the internal LGBTQ+ community to inform the conversation, because they need to come from a place of trust. Use independent facilitators to draw out honest feedback from colleagues. Getting people “in the room” can be challenging, so use the relevant networks and employee groups to encourage participation. And it’s important to follow up in a meaningful way, to continue that trust.

Nicola agreed and added that meaningful allyship is essential; If you display a rainbow flag on site or wear a rainbow lanyard to show support, follow up with real inclusion and supportive actions.

Pete continued the theme that “Trust is earnt”! It will take time to build those relationships. And if you don’t like the feedback given, then it’s imperative to do something about it. He also noted that many people may feel they do not know what to say on LGBTQ+ issues, or where to start having these discussions; don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

Kevin highlighted simple affirmations from leadership can be reassuring and have a positive impact. He then asked if there are unique challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community?

Greg said “everyone has a different story. The response and attitude of others has been a factor of keeping me closeted for as long as I was. So, we do need additional support at times.”

Pete: “People’s experiences can depend on your industry and even on your location.”

Nicola: “At times we find our own label and we can sometimes not be the allies to others that we should be. An example would be the support that’s greatly needed by the trans community by the rest of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.”

#4: “Be curious, but with respect!”

If you could pass one message to the people attending this call today regarding their personal responsibility toward creating an environment of psychological safety – what would that message be?

Nicola: Be the role model you want to see.

Pete: Don’t overthink it, and don’t be afraid.

Greg: Don’t be a bystander – speak up if you see unacceptable behaviours.

Kevin: Be curious, but with respect!

Many thanks to all our speakers!

Additionally, many thanks to all of our attendees who joined us and provided some excellent questions, which you can watch when the recording of our webinar goes live soon. Keep an eye on our LinkedIn page and our Vimeo channel for the webinar’s release.