When we began brainstorming our plans for celebrating Pride with our customers and colleagues at the start of the year, we had grand ideas of parades and community celebrations. Last year, over 1000 colleagues at Lloyds Bank walked in Pride parades at more than 30 Pride events, including many of our senior leaders. However, just as we were making our final preparations, COVID-19 came along, lockdown began, and the prospect of our annual Pride celebration for us all seemed to disappear.
I spent lockdown alone in Leeds. One evening as I sat on the sofa, I looked around my flat and realised that I’m so happy as I am now. Don’t get me wrong, the initial stages of lockdown were a struggle, but I had to get over that to realise that I am genuinely comfortable in myself. However, I know that many weren’t feeling the same way.
There are many people in the LGBT+ community who have spent lockdown with family members who aren’t accepting of who they are, and in situations where they weren’t able to be their true selves.
It’s for that reason that we decided to create a new virtual Pride plan for Lloyds Bank, so that we could still offer our community a safe and accepting environment to celebrate who they are, as Pride is often the only time that they can do so.
Pride is a protest, and it’s about educating people on equal rights and driving change.
If I think back to when I was 17, I wouldn’t have believed that I would be involved in organising our Lloyds Bank LGBT+ initiatives as Rainbow Pride lead. I was a small town boy and I even remember shaking in my mum’s car as I was about to come out. I have reached the point now where I am Always Proud – rainbow trainers in tow, of course. But at the back of my mind throughout lockdown has been the thought that others have had a much more isolated experience.
For our virtual Pride celebrations, we hosted an agenda of events for LGBT+ colleagues and allies. To name a few, an exploration of the history of Pride, film nights and a charity challenge to celebrate 10 years of our colleague Rainbow network. Pride is a protest, and it’s about educating people on equal rights and driving change. Still, it also connects people, and it’s a time to celebrate everything that we’ve achieved over the years. We didn’t want to lose that element of Pride for our community – especially this year.
I feel more empowered than ever to ensure that people know Lloyds Bank is an ally of the LGBT+ community. Over the past 10 years, our Rainbow Network has supported five LGBT+ charity partners with volunteering and fundraising – Mermaids, MindOut, Albert Kennedy Trust, Opening Doors London and Waverley Care, raising over £250,000.
I feel more empowered than ever to ensure that people know Lloyds Bank is an ally of the LGBT+ community.
Last year, I saw the rainbow flag at Pride that included the colours representative of people of colour and trans communities. I had always thought that the rainbow flag designed by Gilbert Baker was all-encompassing. But when my friend Anthony, who is very active in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community told me about the marginalisation these sections of our communities feel under the wider LGBT+ umbrella, I knew that we had some work to do.
This year, the team at Lloyds Bank have worked hard to recreate our rainbow logo with the extra stripes, and we’re celebrating Pride virtually with a series of events for colleagues spanning 10 weeks to recognise 10 years of the Rainbow network. We are an inclusive company and we want all people, customers and colleagues, to know that whoever they are, we are supportive and here to represent them. It’s the perfect way for us as a company to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of our Rainbow Network and look forward to the next decade – and beyond! – of LGBT+ progress in the workplace.