Gay equality organisation Stonewall announced that the 300th organisation to join their Diversity Champions programme is internet giant Google.

A reception was held last week to mark this milestone, hosted by Merrill Lynch.

Google, one of the largest internet businesses in the world, joins companies and organisations such as Barclay’s, IBM, the Royal Navy and Transport for London as members of the programme.

All are committed to championing the importance of a diverse working environment and ensuring that all employees are able to fulfil their potential in the workplace, promoting good practice around sexual orientation.

Nicholas Creswell, chair of the LGBT network at Google UK, called Gaygler, told PinkNews.co.uk that the decision to join the Stonewall programme came from the top:

“We have actually had the CEO of our organisation approved us – we have been involved in Pride across the world – New York Pride, San Francisco Pride, Dublin Pride.

“We are doing Europride in Madrid and that’s come with approval from the chief executive.”

Mr Creswell explained why they had joined with Stonewall to become a Diversity Champion:

“For us, its about getting advice and really become about as LGBT-friendly, as we aspire to be, but culturally we do huge amounts to make sure we make a very open and accepting work place.

“We have been a small organisation, as we are growing, and as we have become more international as a organisation, we have got to make sure we are doing things properly, to create more formal process and more formal programmes.

“We really believe in driving innovation and all sorts of issues from the bottom up, so having a employee network for LGBT employees is a really natural thing to do.”

The Diversity Champions programme aims at focusing employers attention on recruitment and retention of gay and lesbian staff.

It allows employers to promote diversity in the work place for gay and lesbians who face discrimination and for those who are unable to disclose their sexual orientation due to negativity and harassment.

These companies send out a strong signal that they understand the value of all employees in the workplace.

The scheme has steadily grown in size.

Will Hutton, Chief Executive of the Work Foundation, spoke at the reception.

“Three years ago I was invited to speak by Stonewall and there were 50 Stonewall Diversity Champion members,” he told a crowd of representatives of some of the organisations who are members.

“Here we are in 2007 and there are 300. It’s an incredible achievement for Stonewall to pull this off.

“Stonewall have been remarkable agents of change in the UK workplace, a huge catalyst for change. They’ve really helped transform the way that organisations view gay people at work.”

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, commented:

“Even 10 years ago it would have been unthinkable for an organisation like Merrill Lynch to host an event like this, demonstrating both internally and externally their commitment to equality.

“That signals a transformation in the UK workplace and we’re determined to push that change further. Our ambition is to make every workplace in Britain somewhere where lesbian and gay people can be themselves.

“People will always perform better when they can be themselves.”

For more information on the Diversity Champions programme click here.