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Celebrating Our LGBT+ and Ally Role Models

Pride season is upon us once more, but while Pride marches can’t take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, we still have reason to be proud as this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Lloyds Banking Group Rainbow Network. We have also recently launched our 2020 LGBT+ and Ally Role Model list, which shines a light on our colleagues within the Group who have been nominated for their outstanding impact towards LGBT+ diversity and inclusion.

Rainbow is the Group’s professional network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) colleagues and anyone who wants to show their support by joining as an ally.

Over the last decade, we’ve made much-needed progress towards LGBT+ equality as an organisation, creating an inclusive and open working environment for both our colleagues and customers and the Rainbow Network has played a pivotal role in our approach to this.

Finlay McFarlane, who works in our Retail Bank division features on our LGBT+ role model list.

Finlay has been recognised for the work he has done externally in helping to change the narrative around male survivors of sexual violence and other domestic crimes.

“I have been campaigning on this issue externally for around five years, waiving my own right to anonymity to tell my story in national media outlets and try and remove the illusion around male invulnerability and open up about the fact that men can experience mental health problems, experience assault, and be victims too. My campaigning resulted in Parliamentary motions in Westminster and Holyrood, which was a pretty huge moment for me, and last year I also received an Attitude Magazine Pride Award.  

“I have received messages from men all around the world, (some of them in their 80’s with grandchildren) reaching out to say, ‘I’ve never told another soul my whole life but your courage has given me the strength to start to say “this has happened to me too” it makes me feel overwhelmingly proud of myself for turning a horrendous negative and life-changing personal experience into something so constructive and positive, really making a change. Each message I receive is my proudest moment.”

What does it mean to be recognised in the LGBT+ and Ally Role Model list?

“I’m incredibly grateful and humbled to be recognised for my activism outside work. It’s made me feel valued and inspired to carry on making a difference.

I think having role models is so important, as you can’t be what you can’t see. Without visible role models, how can you expect people to truly believe in their own potential to progress and be the best they can be? Without role models, it can be easy to think that career progression, ‘isn’t for people like me’ and that’s why it’s important to have people who are open and share their stories. It forges a path for others to follow behind them. Role models can change and challenge workplace cultures into inclusive and safe spaces where every colleague can thrive and meet their potential.”

Donna Chandler, who works in the Chief Information Office, features on our allies list.

Donna led a team who made it possible for a group of young Trans* and Non-Binary people aged between 12 and 19 to attend a prom, which is something many of them thought they’d never get to experience.

“Mermaids, a charity which supports young people and their families with gender identity issues, asked us if we could help a group of young Trans* and Non Binary people who didn’t have the opportunity to attend a prom or school disco due to not feeling comfortable.” explains Donna.  “We knew immediately that we wanted to give these deserving young people a night to remember, where they would be truly able to be themselves and have a night of fun in a safe, welcoming environment.  

“The end result was a huge event which was held on Lloyds Banking Group premises in London which the first of its kind, and involved months of planning and making sure everyone involved received Trans* awareness training, including our security, catering and hospitality suppliers.

“The prom was a huge success and was very emotional. The young people were so grateful, their parents were in awe and many said it was the first time in years they had seen their child smile.

“Over the years the Rainbow Network has enabled me to be a visible LGBT+ Ally, not only in work but within the wider community. I’ve had the privilege to work with some fantastic people and charities. I have been an ally all my life but being part of the Rainbow Network means I can go that extra mile and make a significant difference.”

Why are role models and allies important?

Role models and allies are vital in helping us to progress, not only as an organisation but also as a society. Role models and allies should lead by example, show strength, not be afraid to challenge the wrong behaviours or treatment of others. They should be available to those who need them, and give others reassurance that they have a safe space to share their issues and someone is there to listen and take action when needed.”

Who is your role model and why?

“My parents are my role models; they raised me to be tolerant, accepting and supportive of those who are vulnerable. They taught me to stand up and be counted and live justly. They still live by their morals and have themselves made significant contributions to make life better for others… I’m nearly 50 and they are in their 70’s, so it’s a lifelong commitment to do the right thing!”

Rhys/Rose Venables, who works in Retail Bank division, features on our LGBT+ role models list.

Rhys/Rose has been recognised for the work they have done within the Group and in the wider community to raise awareness of the Non-Binary community.

“My proudest moment in supporting the LGBT+ community has been helping to raise awareness of the Non-Binary community and the challenges we face. Last year, I spoke on the panel at a Trans* Day of Remembrance event hosted by Rainbow in Chester. The event was open to the wider Chester community, with a number of external organisations attending. The event helped to broaden my understanding of how the LGBT+ community views Trans* people and understand that many people are unaware of the Non-Binary umbrella. I have continued to work with other organisations to help raise awareness, as well as educate around what Non-Binary means.”

How has the Rainbow Network supported you over the years?

“I found out about Rainbow after coming out at work, and since then it has been instrumental in allowing me to be my authentic self in the workplace, as well as allowing me the opportunity to meet others like myself. Rainbow has given me a sense of belonging that I haven’t had in previous companies, and a network of brilliant people who are able to support me when I need them. I can also support in return, working together to educate others both within and without the LGBT+ community to ensure a better future for us all and to find common ground in our differences.”

What does it mean to be recognised in the LGBT+ and Ally Role Model list?

“Being recognised in the list is a huge honour. I feel it’s important to have role models who are approachable and who demonstrate acceptance in their daily life.”

Who is your role model and why?

“I don’t have one role model as such. I try to see the good in everyone and learn from that to help me do the best I can in my own life. In some ways you could say everyone is my role model, as long as you are trying to improve yourself and help others with kindness and compassion you are a role model in my eyes. Education is key to acceptance and acceptance is key to understanding and equality. There’s no one as such I aspire to be or emulate in my actions, I just try to be the best me I can.”

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