Are things changing for the LGBT+ community in Poland? We know the winners of 2022 rainbow diamonds

Representating LGBT+ people in courts, benefits for employees' partners in same sex relationships, or queer academic conferences – people behind these and more initiatives are the winners of the LGBT+ Diamonds Awards 2022. The list includes BNP Paribas, Place of Pride SKANSKA, Ewelina Negowetti, the Coalition of Cities Marching for LGBTQ Equality, Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law and MyGender Student Research Group from the SWPS University. As the record number of 160 nominations shows, more and more people, organisations and employers join the efforts towards diversity and social inclusion in Poland.

Research "Narratives for a change. Study of alliance potential" carried out by For a Change Fund  in 2021 found that as much as 43% of Polish society is friendly towards LGBT+ people. However, the allies themselves estimate that there are only 5-10% of them. What is the reason behind this discrepancy? The authors of the study believe that the allies feel alone and choose not to declare their beliefs. One way to overcome these concerns is to work with people who are active in a similar area. This is the goal chosen by the organisers of the LGBT+ Diamonds Awards – NatWest Group and ABSL. "Each year, the event draws a growing number of people who are working together to make more people appreciate the power of diversity. Coming together is a start, working together is a success. This year's motto of the competition shows that results can only be achieved by engaging in joint efforts," says Dariusz Żak from NatWest Group in Poland, co-organiser of the event.

The winners of the LGBT+ Diamonds Awards

The LGBT+ Diamonds Awards ceremony took place on 26 October 2022 at the Studio Theatre in Warsaw. The winners were selected from a record number of 160 public nominations submitted. The jury, Karolina Kędziora, Marzena Strzelczak, Dariusz Żak, Remigiusz Ryziński, Paweł Panczyj, Sylwia Chutnik, Bart Staszewski and Daniel Mękarski, selected the winners in 6 categories:

●       LGBT+ Supporting Employer of the Year: BNP Paribas – awarded for creating an inclusive and diverse workplace, e.g., by providing employee benefits to partners of employees in same-sex relationships.

●       LGBT+ Employee-Led Network of the Year: Place of Pride, SKANSKA – awarded for educating employees on issues such as unconscious bias or expression of gender identity.

●       LGBT+ Ambassador of the Year: Ewelina Negowetti, provides online assistance to parents of transgender children by offering them knowledge and support.

●       LGBT+ Supporting Initiative of the Year: The Coalition of Cities Marching for LGBTQ Equality – has received an award for its contribution to fostering a new generation of activists.

●       NGO of the year: Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law – awarded for long-term representation of LGBT+ people in courts.

●       Local Game Changer of the Year: MyGender Student Research Group from the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities – awarded for building a safe space for the LGBT+ academic community and education in the field of queer studies.

A special award was granted to Lambda Warsaw, which is celebrating 25 years of activism for the LGBT+ community in Poland. One of their recent projects of this oldest rainbow organisation in Poland was an intervention hostel for LGBT+ people in Warsaw.

Polish companies as pioneers of diversity

The organisers of the competition pay special attention to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, showing good practices or solutions and rewarding companies that can be an example for other organisations. Such action stems from the belief that the wellbeing and motivation of employees is shaped not only by benefits or salaries, but also the appropriate organisational culture and an equal and, above all, friendly work environment. What the idea of diversity and inclusion means in practice is providing every employee, regardless of their origin, education, values, identity and sexual orientation with the same opportunities for professional growth and success.

"In recent decades, many companies have come a long way in ensuring equal rights for the LGBT+ minorities and fighting discrimination and ignorance in the workplace. However, as many societies around the world still do not accept different sexual orientations, many LGBT+ people still do not feel that they can be their authentic selves at work. All of us – companies, organisations, governments and citizens alike – must speak up and take action. This is a collective, social and cultural issue, and to make a real difference, we need to join forces," says Margot Slattery, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, ISS.

For ISS, the Main Partner of the 2022 LGBT+ Diamonds Awards, activities focused on diversity and inclusion need to be implemented by both management and employees across the organisation in order to be effective. Also to BNY Mellon, the Business Partner of this year's competition, cooperation comes first. Alongside making internal changes, the company emphasises building partnerships within and outside the organisation. 

"Engaging minority groups and taking into account their perspective enriches not only the company's organisational culture, but also its business activities. However, let's not forget that the ultimate goal of building a culture of diversity is to create a workplace where everyone can be themselves and feel at ease," says Jonathon Stubbs, Head of Human Resources, EMEA, BNY Mellon. "Every conversation in which we seek to include the voice of everyone, every business decision taken with different perspectives in mind, every situation in which we are allies of the LGBT+ community gradually changes the culture of the organisation, as well as the environment outside the company. When many people act in a coordinated way, the effect may surpass our expectations," he adds.

We work together toward shared success

This year's competition is record-breaking not only in terms of nominations, but also partnerships. The LGBT+ Diamonds Awards are supported by as many as 20 entities from business, the third sector, academia and local government administration, and international organisations.

Co-organisers: NatWest Group in Poland and ABSL Poland

Honorary Partnership: the European Commission, the Diversity Charter, the Embassy of Canada, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Embassy of Norway, the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Mayor of the City of Warsaw

Event Partner: Theatre Studio

Main Partner: ISS

Business partner: BNY Mellon

Substantive Matron: Campaign Against Homophobia

Social Patrons and Social Matrons: Centre for Women's Rights, Voces Gaudii Choir, Diversity Pl, Equality Factory, the Bęc Zmiana Foundation, Empowering Children Foundation, the Trans-Fuzja Foundation, For a Change Fund, Institute of Public Affairs, Lambda Warsaw, Love Does Not Exclude, We, the Parents, Equality Parade, Perspektywy Women in Tech, Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law, Rainbow Białystok, Tolerado

Media Patronage/Matronage:, Replika, MyCompany

For more information, visit our website and our Facebook profile at @LGBT+ Diamonds Awards.