The positive work of the Royal Air Force (RAF) was showcased at the recent European Diversity Awards.

Held at the Natural History Museum in London on 26 September, the event celebrates and recognises those organisations and individuals who have improved lives, often under challenging circumstances, across a spectrum of diversity strands.

Diversity Champion Wg Cdr Mark Abrahams beat stiff competition to win ‘Campaigner of the Year’ in recognition of his tireless work for over a decade to bring about positive change for RAF LGBT personnel and their families.  The high esteem in which he is held by policy makers across the globe attracted interest from the Pentagon in the United States, who sought advice on the transition from the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

“I am delighted to receive this award which is recognition for the collective efforts of the RAF LGBT Forum and E&D staff over the last decade to improve the lived experience for LGBT personnel in the RAF,” a slightly shell-shocked Wg Cdr Mark Abrahams said.  “The RAF has proved beyond all reasonable doubt that it is fully committed to the diversity agenda. Whilst recognising the recruiting and retention positive effect of its policies, it remains at the vanguard of a number of policy initiatives in the diversity arena, marking it out as an equal opportunities employer of choice.”

In an impressive field of nominees, including globally recognised brands Coca-Cola and L’Oreal and personalities including Stephen Fry, the RAF was nominated in an unprecedented three categories: Campaigner of the Year – Wg Cdr Mark Abrahams; Company of the Year – RAF; Inspirational Role Model – Flt Lt Sherry Conway.

In addition to the success at the European Diversity Awards, the RAF’s service-wide success is recognized nationally. Currently the RAF is listed in the Times Top 50 Employers of Women, Stonewall Top 100, and holds Platinum and Gold awards from Race for Opportunity and Opportunity Now respectively.

Gp Capt Mark Heffron, DACOS A1, HQ Air Command echoed the Wg Cdr’s words. “The recognition of the RAF at European level in Diversity is testament to those who have worked tirelessly to further this important part of our make up. Led by the HQ AIR Command Equality and Diversity Team, and with the staffs at RAFC Cranwell and those within the various organisations such as LGBT, the RAF was this evening rightly praised for its attitude and unstinting efforts. I am proud that my team have led the way and that the results are known across Europe!”