The BBC has officially quit the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme, citing concerns over remaining “impartial” for its exit.

The scheme gives employers training on LGBTQ+ inclusion to ensure all members of the community are accepted and respected in the workplace.

Major players like the UK government’s Cabinet Office and Ofcom controversially quit Stonewall’s programme earlier in 2021.

The BBC now joins this list, confirming its departure from the scheme on 10 November.

“The BBC is fully committed to being an industry-leading employer on LGBTQ+ inclusion,” a spokesperson for the BBC said. “We are proud of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans colleagues and we support them to have fulfilling careers at the BBC.”

The statement explained that the BBC’s involvement in “public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role” was a key factor in the decision to withdraw from the scheme.

The statement added: “Along with many other UK employers, the BBC has participated in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme to support our objective to create a fully inclusive workplace. However, over time our participation in the Programme has led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role.

“After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.”

Stonewall called the news of the BBC’s departure “a shame” but said organisations taking part are free to “come and go depending on what’s best for their inclusion journey at the time.”

“It’s a shame that the BBC has decided not to renew their membership of our Diversity Champions programme, but as with all membership programmes, organisations come and go depending on what’s best for their inclusion journey at the time,” a spokesperson for Stonewall said.

“We will continue to engage with the BBC on a number of fronts to champion support for LGBTQ+ colleagues and to represent our communities through their reporting.”

Research by Stonewall shows that almost one in five LGBTQ+ staff have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues because of their identity.

In addition, almost one in five LGBTQ+ people who were looking for work said they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity while trying to get a job.

Despite the BBC’s decision to leave the programme, there are currently over 900 private and public businesses that continue to participate in it.