How AstraZeneca and Middlesex University London won Queer Student Awards 2023

Jun 28, 2023 | Case studies, Diversity, Home Featured

As Pride Month comes to a close, The Queer Student Awards reveal what was behind this year’s employer and university winning entries.

The third annual final of The Queer Student Awards (QSAs), in association with ACCA, was hosted by award-winning trans ambassador Katie Neeves.

The QSAs are an annual celebration of talented young LGBTQ+ people in the UK who are proudly leading in their lives and the communities around them. Amongst the 2023 winners were student employer AstraZeneca and Middlesex University London.

They were recognised for creating inclusive spaces that support and reassure LGBTQ+ youths that their sexuality and gender identity will not act as a barrier to their future success.


Employer of the Year: AstraZeneca

Employer of the Year (sponsored by WTW) celebrates the UK student employer that best displays its commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion through the ways in which it attracts, selects, supports, and develops its young LGBTQ+ employees.

AstraZeneca demonstrated how their initiatives create not only a sense of community between LGBTQ+ individuals, but also their allies. Analytical scientists Louise Burls-Lay and Amy Moore were awarded Ally of the Year winner and runner-up respectively.


How AstraZeneca created a sense of community

Amongst their achievements in the last 12 months AstraZeneca (AZ) have:

  • Created a ‘Lunch with Leaders’ programme. Interactive sessions enable several senior leaders to openly talk about their experiences as an LGBTQ+ leader in the workplace. Crucially, this gives those early in their careers the opportunity to ask questions directly to leaders and see themselves in those leadership roles.
  • AZ Pride developed a mentoring framework for early career LGBTQ+ colleagues to be matched with a mentor from a different part of the organisation.
  • The creation of an AZ Pride subgroup, led by graduate Jack Cleary, to develop young members’ skills to help them grow into strong and supportive individuals that positively shape the future of the company for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The subgroup successfully launched Bridging Generations. This event introduced topics such as the use of pronouns, gender and sexuality–neutral terminology in the workplace. The team started as a Macclesfield-based initiative but is now looking to be rolled out globally after its success.

AZ Pride’s Patrick Brennan said:

“As sponsors from day one, AstraZeneca knows the calibre of amazing people who get recognised by the QSAs, so we were so thrilled to be the winners of Employer of the Year. I’m particularly pleased to be able to share the win with so many amazing colleagues who deserve to be recognised for the contribution they have made to the company. Our trophy is going to be displayed proudly for all to see, as it’s important that our hard-working LGBTQ+ colleagues are recognised for the contribution they make to our workplace every day.”

The category runner-up was EY. Their LGBTQ+ Network Co-Chair, Hayley Vaughan, was awarded winner Role Model of the Year: Employer with apprentice Krita Shah who was awarded runner-up Rising Star of the Year.


University of the Year: Middlesex University London

University of the Year (sponsored by The Royal Navy) celebrates the UK university that best displays its commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion through the ways in which it attracts, selects, supports, and develops its LGBTQ+ employees and students on campus.

Category winner Middlesex University London (MDX) was able to demonstrate lots of great things happening with some really strong evidence to support their entry.


How Middlesex University is demonstrating inclusion

Initiatives supporting LGBTQ+ people and achievements included:

  • The LGBTQ+ Network has promoted activities including the first Barnet Pride in the Park and a regular programme of events to engage staff.
  • The network chairs worked with the Vice Chancellor to create a trans-inclusion strategy.
  • MDX was named as a Top 100 employer and received a Gold award in the 2023 Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.
  • Two LGBTQ+ staff reverse mentored the Executive Team of University’s Senior Leaders on topics relating to LGB, trans and non-binary experiences.
  • The Unitemps MDXWorks service worked to ensure LGBTQ+ Student Ambassadors are employed to represent the University during important times of the academic year.

Dr Robert Vesty, a senior lecturer in theatre and co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Network, said:

“I am super proud to be part of such a vibrant community of LGBTQ+ activists and changemakers at Middlesex University. That we have been given this accolade of University of the Year in the QSAs attests to the hard work and commitment of so many who have worked to make Middlesex a safer and more inclusive environment for all our students and staff.”

The University of Bath was awarded runner-up, with Durham University the third shortlisted finalist.

You can read the full list of the 2023 winners. Planning for QSA2024, next June, is already underway. Schools, colleges, universities and employers interested in finding out more can contact Founder and Event Director, Steve Keith.


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