LGBTQ+ group

Published: 19 October 2022

What is an LGBTQ+ ally and what is a safe ally? Caroline Haig, co-chair of the LGBTQ+ group explains.

What is an LGBTQ+ ally and what is a safe ally? Caroline Haig, co-chair of the LGBTQ+ group explains. 

Photo of trans and lgbt flags

The LGBTQ+ working group aims to promote LGBTQ+ equality and diversity for SHW staff, students, and visitors through supporting cultural change and increased visibility and representation.

What is an ally?

An LGBTQ+ ally is someone who believes in equality for the LGBTQ+ community, and acts to play a part in creating safe spaces where everyone can thrive. Allies can include straight and cis* people as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community.

One simple way YOU can be an ally today is by putting your pronouns in visible places such as your web profile, your email signature and your Zoom name.

See our article in last year's Athena Swan/equality, diversity and inclusion HAWKEYE for further info on pronouns:

What is a safe ally?

Our safe allies exist to ensure the SHW is a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for everyone. They champion LGBTQ+ issues and are available as a safe and confidential point of contact for anyone wishing to discuss any concerns.

We have recently appointed two SAFE ALLIES within SHW: Kate O’Donnell (Kate.O’ and Fi Caryl (

Should you be experiencing any LGBTQ+ equality concerns, you can speak in confidence to either Kate or Fi.

Some words from safe ally Kate O’Donnell:

"I believe that the SHW should be a safe and welcoming workplace for everyone. As a cis-het woman, I can’t understand all of the challenges or difficulties that people might face. But I can be an open and vocal advocate of LGBTQ+ rights and someone that people in SHW can approach if they feel they are facing discrimination or problems because of their sexuality and/or gender. Going forward, I want to get better educated about that I can do to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues, which means accepting that I might get my language or actions wrong too. If I do, I hope to be corrected so I can learn to be a better, stronger ally."

Want to join us? Anyone from SHW is welcome to join the LGBTQ+ working group. We welcome everyone, cis or trans, straight or not, the more the merrier.

* Cis = not transgender.

Caroline Haig 
on behalf of the SHW Athena Swan LGTBQ+ group

If you would like to join this Athena Swan group, please contact the group chairs – they'd be delighted to hear from you

First published: 19 October 2022