Karin Q AND A

2017 Bi visibility Day: Karin Cook Q&A

Earlier this year we were named the Stonewall Top Employer 2017. We are very proud of this achievement as it recognises our commitment to creating a workplace that treats all colleagues with dignity and respect. In honour of 2017 Bisexual Awareness Day, our Group Executive Sponsor for sexual orientation and gender identity, Karin Cook, hosted a Bisexual Awareness and Celebration event, recognising the great strides that have been made to improve visibility and awareness of bisexuality in the workplace. The event included a number of guest speakers and we also unveiled the new Lloyds Bank advert which has been timed to coincide with Bi-Visibility Day. We caught up with Karin Cook to find out more about why Bisexual Awareness Day is important to her…

Q&A

As Lloyds Banking Group’s Executive Sponsor for sexual orientation & gender identity – what would you say your key responsibilities are?

Firstly, I asked to be the Group’s executive sponsor as it’s an area I am deeply passionate about I want to ensure our environment for both our colleagues and customers is welcoming and a space where everyone can be their true self.

My main responsibilities include listening to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and trans* community to understand the key issues they face.  It’s only by listening to the community can I then work to address these.

I use my voice in the Group to remove any barriers, raise the profile of LGBT inclusion and encourage more allies, at every level of the organisation to get involved. I have a fantastic team around me, including Rainbow (our LGBT Colleague Network) and we’ve delivered a variety of process, policy and cultural changes that I’m both very proud of but more importantly, our people tell us these change lives for the better.

Q&A continued

Tell us more about bi-visibility day – and why is Lloyds Banking Group interested in this?

At Lloyds Banking Group, it is embedded in our culture to support inclusion from a colleague and customer perspective. Of course, we are interested in every part of L G B and T, however we know from our bi-annual colleague surveys, and from listening directly to our bisexual colleagues, that there are opportunities to improve. 

I am always saddened by insight such as bi-colleagues feeling like their identity is not recognised in the workplace, or that they don’t feel comfortable telling management/colleagues that they’re bisexual. I can imagine it’s really difficult to come to work and feel you have to hide a part of yourself, or pretend to be something you’re not.

By organisations like us visibly supporting and getting more people talking about Bi-Visibility day, we hope this will help dispel some of the myths that surround bi-sexuality, and increase people’s awareness and understanding of challenges Bi people may face.

Lastly, we know a lack of visible role models is a real challenge in the workplace, how important are role models to inclusion and what advice would you give to people who are perhaps fearful of putting themselves forward as a role model?

Role models at every level of an organisation are hugely important to inclusion – they are probably the most effective way of making positive change as we are all human and the very real personal stories bring this to life for all of us.

I appreciate that stepping forward and sharing your own journey or personal life can be a difficult thing to do.

My advice for those who are perhaps a bit hesitant to come forward would be to think about the potential difference you could make to someone in your team, your office, your social network. I also know from speaking to role models, whilst they may not have seen themselves in this way and felt nervous stepping up in the past; once they did it made a massive impact to their own lives. You will be showing the world that your best self is your authentic self, and who could possibly argue that that’s a bad thing?