Bobbi Pickard is the Diversity & Inclusion Officer at BP

What is your professional background?
I’m old! I have a really long professional background! I started in engineering at British Aerospace building Harrier jump jets then moved into flight simulators. From there I got into IT and helped create some of the first websites – I moved from there to becoming a Global Manager in Banking and Trading. Around that time I came very close to transitioning. My manager didn’t like it and it ended my permanent career. I left and ran my own consultancy for the next 10 years and three suicide attempts before finally transitioning while I was consulting at bp. They subsequently offered me a permanent role in DE&I.

You are the Diversity and Inclusion Director at bp. What does that role involve?
It’s a wonderful role and one I love doing. I’m responsible for ensuring inclusion for all forms of diversity in central Europe but also responsible for LGBTQIA+ inclusion across the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. It’s interesting and challenging especially in some regions. I work in a team of fabulous people that are all so passionate about making things more inclusive for all people inside and outside of bp.

How important is a positive Diversity and Inclusion policy in the workplace and what advantages does it bring to both the individual and the corporation?
Its essential – it’s been proven for many years now that those organisations that are actively inclusive to all diversities are more innovative, make better decisions, build better teams and are more successful and profitable. It makes for a happier, more effective workforce, improving staff retention as well.

How should one set about creating such a policy?
There are loads of organisations for all diversities that can help – reach out to them. Engage those diversities in your organisation too but bear in mind that not all will be or want to be visible. Don’t put the onus on diversities to “fix” your organisation, dedicate time, people and funding to do it properly – it will absolutely pay dividends

You are also CEO of Trans in the City. What is Trans in the City and what does it do?
Trans in the City is a collaboration between over 300 companies to further trans and non-binary awareness and to celebrate trans and non-binary people that do so much in business whether it’s rocket scientists, rescue pilots or the hundreds of other positive amazing things they do. We help companies with training and empowering trans and non-binary people in their organisations to flourish in their careers. We’ve been in existence for five years now and I’m so proud to see what we’ve become, the amazing people and organisations now involved and especially that we’ve raised over £300k for LGBTQIA+ charities over the last three years.

Trans issues and awareness have become increasingly high profile in recent years, and it can be argued that trans people are gaining more acceptance. Do you agree with that – and what more needs to be done?
We’re widely accepted in society despite the very concerted efforts by an increasing anti-trans print and broadcast media, government and the inordinate amount of funding being funnelled into anti-trans groups and individuals.

Knowledge about trans and non-binary people is still very low in society and its essential to change that so people can understand the truth rather than just hear the constant rhetoric and hypothetical scaremongering being peddled by the media. There’s a huge push back against human rights happening at the minute including gay and women’s rights – trans people are being used as the lever for that.

The situation in the country is dire for us with abuse, high suicide rates, no healthcare – we need active allies to help us; we’re exhausted and we’re dying. I’ve lost six of my friends to suicide, almost a seventh a couple of weeks ago – that’s why I do what I do, it must change.

On either a professional or personal level what do you consider to be your proudest achievement?
As an archetypal person of low self-worth I don’t really do proud – I always wish I could do more, help more people, there’s so much hurt and pain. I’ve been so lucky to have been given some amazing accolades and awards, I think 17 now, but I occasionally receive messages from people saying how I’ve helped make a difference to them personally and that means the most, I think. I’m also a champion for Stonewall Housing, an ambassador for MindOUT and recently a Patron for the amazing FFLAG. I’m so humbled by that because they are full of the most inspirational fantastic people that deserve so much recognition.

What’s next for Bobbi Pickard?
Planning for Trans in the City’s event in November and working with Chippenham Pride. For me personally I think a few trips to the middle of nowhere in my motorhome with just my guitar and a birdsong for company. I don’t have a masterplan for me, I’ll just try and make a positive difference to the world while I’m here.