MI5 has been named the best employer in the UK for promoting LGBT diversity.

The security service has been named top of the Stonewall Top 100 Employers, from the workplace diversity index for 2016.

Following the survey last year, MI5, known for its secrecy, beat more than 400 other organisations.

The ranking is based on employment policies, training, career development and its support of LGBT employees.

Its placement atop the list was welcomed by executives at the agency.

Director-general Andrew Parker said: “Diversity is vital for MI5, not just because it’s right that we represent the communities we serve, but because we rely on the skills of the most talented people whoever they are, and wherever they may be.

“This accolade from Stonewall is a great acknowledgement of the continued progress we have made over recent years in ensuring we draw on the widest possible pool of talent in our vital work.”

The top employer for Wales and Scotland, and in the number two spot overall was Lloyds Banking Group, the sponsor of the 2015 PinkNews Awards.

Karin Cook

Karin Cook, Lloyds Banking Group director of Operations after presenting a PinkNews Award to MP Maria Miller and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson

The Lloyds Group Director of Operations and Executive Sponsor for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Karin Cook, was named Senior Champion of the Year.

Ms Cook said: “It is a great honour for me to have been named Stonewall’s Senior Champion of the Year 2016. My role as Lloyds Banking Group’s Executive Sponsor for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is incredibly rewarding and am ably supported by an extremely proactive group of colleagues. I am personally committed to helping our LGBT colleagues be more comfortable and confident in bringing their whole selves to work, and want to ensure that Lloyds Banking Group is seen as an employer of choice for the LGBT community.

“As part of our Helping Britain Prosper Plan, we have set a public goal around increasing the engagement levels of LGBT colleagues, and are committed to making it happen.”

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall CEO, said: “Those organisations that are ‘getting it right’ are not only improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff, stakeholders, clients and customers, but are also reaping business benefits.

“We know that people perform better when they can be themselves, and it’s been proven that diversity among staff leads to a more productive, positive and creative workplace environment.”