Blog post

In conversation with Raffaela Goodby – being an LGBTQ+ ally

In this blog, James Devine, NHS Confederation's director of Acute Network, interviews Raffaela Goodby on what makes a good LGBTQ+ ally.
James Devine

23 June 2021

In this in-conversation blog, James Devine, NHS Confederation's director of Acute Care Network, interviews Raffaela Goodby, chief people officer at Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital NHS Trust, who shares some insights into what she feels makes a good LGBTQ+ ally.

June is Pride month; dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ communities all around the world.  Pride month is about coming together in love and friendship, to show how far gay rights have come, even if in some place there is still work to be done for individuals to be able to freely express who they are.

So what better way to get involved, than to get ‘in conversation’ with my good friend, and strong LGBTQ ally, Raffaela Goodby, who personally supported me when I came out.

Raffaela, why are you an ally?

I want to contribute to a society where who you love is sacred and safe to talk about, regardless of their gender

I have been a visible ally of LGBTQ+ colleagues for over six years now, including being the executive sponsor of our staff network in my previous trust. I feel it’s important to use my voice to speak up for colleagues who identify as LGBTQ who do not feel confident enough to speak for themselves and importantly to create an environment as a leader that is safe for colleagues to be themselves. We know that prejudice, discrimination and misunderstanding creates harm to the people on the receiving end, and I want to contribute to a society where who you love is sacred and safe to talk about, regardless of their gender.

What does it mean to you?

It means speaking openly to my daughters as soon as they could talk about wanting girlfriends or boyfriends and talking about loving a spirit rather than a gender

Allyship to me means being visible about it. Speaking up on language used in meetings. Calling people out for banter that might be misinterpreted. Visibly asking about partners rather than about husbands, wives or children. Wearing my rainbow lanyard and badge. Being open on social media about supporting LGBTQ+ colleagues. Marching at Birmingham Pride. Supporting LGBTQ colleagues through difficult situations. Educating colleagues through changes to HR practice or supporting our staff networks. It means speaking openly to my daughters as soon as they could talk about wanting girlfriends or boyfriends and talking about loving a spirit rather than a gender. Being available for questions and constantly being curious and educating myself through talking to colleagues or experts and reading, especially during Pride month. It also means being willing to apologise when I get things wrong, or say the wrong thing, or if my opinions are outdated (my kids tell me things all the time that I say that are wrong and constantly keep me on my toes).

How does your organisation support you and how do you use your senior role to promote allyship?

The NHS trusts I have worked in are visibly promoting inclusion of LGBTQ+ colleagues, through setting up LGBTQ staff networks with colleagues and ensuring they have time and support to make things better. We have just reviewed our family leave policy to make all of the language gender neutral. We are supporting Pride month and did an internal comms campaign during LGBTQ history month. We support our colleagues through the materials and resources available through the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (ENEI) and I have worked with Stonewall in the past and entered the Top 100 employers. We have gained valuable feedback through questionnaires and feedback on how our trust was achieving against the standards.

At my previous trust we implemented a safe space for colleagues, implemented a transgender policy and supported the local LGBTQ orchestra to practice on site in our education centre and attended and promoted the concerts.

Any final thoughts, or message to the LGBTQ communities?

We are always learning, and there is no ‘perfect way’ of supporting LGBTQ colleagues and being a perfect ally, as it will mean different things to different colleagues as we are all, thankfully, so different and unique!