At HSBC we believe that having a diverse and inclusive culture is key to our business success. Our ambition is to be recognised as the world’s leading international bank. We will achieve this by focusing on the needs of our employees, customers and the societies we serve.By having employees who represent and reflect our society, we will be better able to address issues and opportunities for our customers.
So in practice, what does that really mean for our colleagues? We’re looking at our policies and processes to make sure they’re as inclusive as they can be, and working hard to improve our ranking in the Stonewall index. We’re doing well – having moved 248 places in only 3 years to reach number 70 this year – but we want to be even better.We know that our LGBT+employees value havingopenly LGBT+role models to inspire them to succeed in reaching their goals. We have a great role model in European CEO Antonio Simoes, but we also believe that you can be a role model at any level of the business and so we make sure we showcase the successes of all L,G,B and T employees.
We know that as a London headquartered company, our focus could easily be London centric. However, our fantastic employee network has worked hard to increase events around the country on topics including: coming out stories, surrogacy and adoption, bullying and mental fitness. Colleagues dial in from around the world to attend events and we also have networks in countries as diverse as Hong Kong, the Philippines, Canada and Mexico. In the UK, we host monthly lunches for LGBT+ colleaguesto get together and network with other LGBT+ colleagues.Wealso started a trans* call to connect colleagues who didn’t get to meet other trans employee members – it was so successful that we’ve now opened it to other companies and other countries. All other events are open to all employees, whether LGBT+ or not, and are extremely popular.
Most importantly though, we ask our colleagues what we need to do. We survey all colleagues to understand key topics and we have open exchanges on LGBT+issues with senior leaders to understand what is working – and not working – for LGBT+ colleagues and customers at HSBC. Then we change things. One big change was that people wanted to march in Pride as employees of the bank, and so last year 230 people from as far afield as Poland and Aberdeen joined the #HSBCpride bus and danced their way through the streets of London!
CHRIS MADDREN AND GREGORY EDWARDS ARE THE CO-CHAIRS OF HSBC’S LGBT+ NETWORK, PRIDE. WE SPOKE TO THEM ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO BE OUT IN THE WORKPLACE
Who are you and what are your professional roles in HSBC?
Chris Maddren: I’m the HR Business Partner for first direct (part of the HSBC group).
Gregory Edward: I’m the Global Head of Transactional Foreign Exchange in Global Banking and Markets. Together we co-chair HSBC’s LGBT+ network Pride.
How important is to be out in the workplace? And what advice would you give someone considering to come out in the workplace?
Chris: Being open about yourself is incredibly important as it allows you to be yourself and be more productive – there’s no downtime from trying to hide a huge part of your life from your colleagues. It took me a few years to come out at work but I noticed such a change (and relief!) when I did. For someone who is considering whether to come out in the workplace my advice would be to focus on the benefits of coming out at work. Think about how you would feel if people knew your true self and how it would feel to be able to speak freely with your colleagues without having to worry about what you may be saying.
Greg: I want to be open and honest with colleagues and clients at all times; a relationship built on trust is key for long term personal and professional success. My husband and I have two kids – there is simply no time or head space to be worried about the reaction of others.
How does HSBC go about encouraging an atmosphere of diversity in the workplace?
Chris: We’re doing so many things! HSBC actively encourages our people to live its values every day, being open, dependable and connected. We measure behaviours at work and recognise people that role model our values. HSBC has a range of employee networks covering LGBT+, gender, ethnicity, disability and religion and these are open to everyone to join.
Greg: The tone from the top around diversity is more than just lip service – there are some excellent concrete steps the bank has taken and is taking to make HSBC more inclusive.
What does HSBC’s LGBT+ Pride network offer its members?
Our Pride network offers our members the opportunity to learn about topics and issues that impact LGBT+ colleagues at home and at work. We’re open to everyone to join, whether you identify as LGBT+ or not, as we know that to make the bank fully inclusive, we need to talk to everyone. We host a number of events across the country and have had guest speakers from the professional and sporting world talk about their experiences. We also offer our members the opportunity to meet in a safe environment – we have LGBT+ only networking lunches and we also have a monthly cross company call for trans* colleagues only to share their experiences.
What do you think has been the greatest achievement of HSBC’s LGBT+ Pride network?
Chris: Putting LGBT+ at the heart of the bank. We’ve done some fantastic work on education events, networking and guest speakers and we’ve increased our membership numbers. We had a fantastic experience at London Pride last year where we had a float for the very first time. We’re seeing the results in the Stonewall annual index – in the space of 2 years we’ve increased our placing from outside the top 200 to 70. We’re really proud of this but we want to get even higher so I’m sure our greatest achievement is yet to come!
Greg: Helping HSBC get the best out of our employees by helping to create the right atmosphere to let individuals be themselves and therefore fully able to contribute to the organisation. I also think Pride has been instrumental in working with other groups helping normalise being out as LGBT+ within communities where acceptance has been historically poor.
Have you ever experienced any homophobia in any work place?
Chris: I’m proud to say I’ve never experienced homophobia but I did experience worry about coming out. I realise I had nothing to be afraid of but there was nothing at the time that made me feel I had the support from networks such as Pride that didn’t exist at the time in Leeds. That was over 10 years ago and I feel we have changed so much in recognising the importance of diversity at work and the benefits of people being their true selves.