HOW WE ENCOURAGE COLLEAGUES TO BRING THEIR AUTHENTIC SELVES TO WORK

Tue, 27 Jun 2023

As a Top Employer UK with strong commitments to diversity and inclusion, the team at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK were thrilled to kick off Pride Month celebrations by giving some colleagues tickets to Birmingham Pride.

But whilst Pride Month is a great opportunity to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities around the world, the national month also enables organisations time to reflect on their current diversity and inclusion practices and how they can evolve this to become a stronger ally. We sat down with our Chief People Officer, Susan Farmer, to learn how we are cultivating an inclusive culture all year round.

To continue our reflections, we spoke to Chief Customer Officer, Richard Newland, to find out his experience of navigating the working world as a gay man and how businesses can encourage colleagues to feel comfortable in bringing their authentic selves to work.

The journey to leadership

Richard joined BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK in 2022 after building a career for over 25 years across the financial services and retail industries.

Having worked with some of the world’s leading brands, including HSBC, Currys and BT, Richard has a wealth of experience and insight to bring to his role as Chief Customer Officer where he has his ambitions set on transforming the customer experience.

Despite Richard's successful career, there were times when he had to hide his authentic self out of fear of colleague perception.  

The impact of sexuality on career progression

Richard explained: “I spent the early years of my career in the closet, being careful about my use of pronouns when referring to my partner and stepping around questions which might reveal more about my sexuality than I was comfortable with sharing at the time.

“Whilst I don’t think being gay impacted my career progression, it was an exhausting experience having to hide who I really was at a place where I spend so much of my life. It wasn’t until my late 20s when I reached a point in my career that I felt confident to share my sexuality. 

“We have come a long way over the past 25 years, and I can now — for the most part — be my authentic self both in my personal life and at work, which is a great feeling.”

Increasing LGBTQ+ representation in senior positions

Reflecting on his progression to leadership, Richard shared: “I think it’s important to have members of the LGBTQ+ community visible across all areas of the business, but especially in senior positions.

“Not only does diversity encourage colleagues to feel empowered; but, by implementing diversity from the very top, this recognition and acceptance funnels down to all areas of the business, creating a positive impact on colleagues’ perception of the workplace.

“In addition to representing LGBTQ+ colleagues, leaders can hold their peers accountable, as well as the organisation as a whole, on their efforts towards improving diversity and inclusion.

“And from a business perspective, increasing LGBTQ+ representation improves the diversity of thinking in our teams, meaning we can better serve our customers and our partners.”

How have BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK’s initiatives and policies around inclusivity of LGBTQ+ colleagues supported you and your career so far?

“BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK has strong commitments to creating an inclusive workplace which I have personally benefitted from since joining last year. Although it felt like I had to come out again as I entered a new organisation, my colleagues at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK were very welcoming and it didn’t take me long to feel comfortable.

Richard continued: “In addition to several D&I networks, including our 'Pride’ committee, which encourages important conversations for our LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies, BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK conducts regular anti-bias training to improve awareness around diversity and inclusion.

“Building on this activity, there are simple measures in place that make a massive difference, including the opportunity for colleagues to wear rainbow lanyards and to express their pronoun preferences upon joining, ensuring that they feel both seen and heard from the very start.”

Our commitment

At BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, we are proud of our long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion and to fostering a culture in which our LGBTQ+ colleagues feel celebrated.

There is more work to do to improve and expand our inclusive practices and, with continued input from colleagues, like Richard, we can ensure that our colleagues can always bring their authentic selves to work.

Interested in joining our diverse team and working for a Top Employer? We’re hiring! Explore our latest career opportunities here.