Would James Bond approve? MI5, Britain’s intelligence agency, has been named one of the most gay-friendly employers in the United Kingdom.

The agency, which protects the UK’s national security against threats such as terrorism and espionage, was a new entry in LGBT group Stonewall’s annual Top 100 Employers index, coming in at number 62.

Prior to 1990, MI5 would not even employ gay and lesbian staff as they were considered to be at high risk of blackmail.

Jonathan Evans, director general of MI5, commented: “The Security Service has worked hard in recent years to promote equality and diversity across all areas of its work. We are pleased to be recognised by Stonewall, but there is still more we can do. We will continue to support lesbian, gay and bisexual staff to make MI5 a truly inclusive place to work.”

Accounting and professional services giant Ernst & Young topped the list, followed, in second place, by the Home Office (the UK government department responsible for immigration control, security, and order) and Barclays bank in third.

“Competition for a place in the Top 100 was fiercer than ever this year,” said Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive.

“With new, more demanding criteria, every employer securing a position in the Top 100 has performed impressively – and the participating employers collectively employ over 1.9 million people. The index remains a powerful tool used by Britain’s 1.7 million gay employees and 150,000 gay university students to decide where to take their talent and skills.”

The index is based on a range of key indicators which this year included a confidential survey of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees, with over 7,500 participants. This consistently confirmed that the satisfaction levels of gay staff were highest at the top-ranking organisations in the index.

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