Inclusivity isn't just about getting more people from ethnically-diverse backgrounds in the door


 

Repi works as a Solicitor for the Group, and is also a mentor and role model in our Ethnicity Working Group. Giving back and supporting young people is all in a day’s work.

Repi talking in a small group of people, gesturing and smiling

Repi (centre) is a Solicitor for the Group in Business & Commercial Banking, a much-valued member of the Corporate Institutional Banking Legal Team.

I've been with Lloyds Banking Group just over 10 years now. I joined as a Solicitor in the Consumer Finance Legal Team, which is the Legal team that supports lending to customers, including finance for those wanting to buy or hire cars. My job focused on contracts and ensuring consumer rights are implemented and upheld, as well as commercial negotiations, and many other things.  

Around a year ago, however, I came back from maternity leave and heard about a new role in Business & Commercial Banking, and Corporate Institutional Banking Legal. This is the team that supports our business customers, so I would be stepping away from the consumer world. I decided to challenge myself and go for it. This area is very new to me, but I’m excited to see what this experience brings.

One of the great things about the Group is the continued focus on development and growth and the opportunities for moving into and learning about new areas. Through this role I have learnt how much interchangeable skills we have and how change shouldn’t be seen as scary but rather an opportunity to enhance the skills you already have while getting a few more!

Repi sitting around a table with a group of people and a laptop open in front of her

“For me, it's about saying, “Well, if I've made it, you can, too. And I'll do everything I can to remove any barriers that prevent you.”

A different kind of journey

My route to becoming a solicitor wasn’t typical. After graduating, I really struggled to find a training contract to qualify and it's so expensive and only a few places that took on trainees or so I thought. I didn't have any financial backing and I had maxed out my credit card to get myself through university. Nor did I have the contacts to know places like banks also offer training contracts. I lacked the knowledge to know how to go about qualifying.

I got to the point where I thought, “It's never going to happen for me.” I began teaching law at a college but didn’t enjoy it much. So, I found a new job at Nationwide Building Society in a contact center role and I decided to make the most of it. 

Soon, I started working on more legal tasks and eventually became a Legal Risk Manager there. Eventually I had the opportunity to design my own training contract. As a trainee solicitor I worked in four distinct areas of law; consumer, commercial, corporate & dispute resolution. This meant I was able to move into a more advisory role, support product development initiatives, draft terms and conditions, negotiate and deal with disputes.

On completion of the training and some more exams later I was finally a solicitor. After some time, I was ready for a new challenge, which is when I found a really exciting role at Lloyds Banking Group. 

“People need to see there are many different routes to becoming a solicitor, and know they can work in places like the Group regardless of what race, background or social standing they come from.”

Representing 

For me, it’s important to share this story. People need to see there are many different routes to becoming a solicitor. And it’s especially important for people to know they can be a solicitor and work in places like Lloyds Banking Group regardless of what race, background or social standing they come from. 

Years ago, I was walking across our old office when a young woman approached me. She said “Hello” and we had a quick chat. The next day she emailed me to say how good it was to see someone like me walking the floors with confidence and looking like I belonged. I was overwhelmed by her comments but realised the importance of role modelling and being visible.

This colleague had stopped wearing her hijab before entering her professional career journey because she thought it would hold her back. However, coming into the Group and working in Legal & Secretariat she found allies and friends that encouraged her to bring her whole self to work. It's great to feel part of an organisation that encourages and believes in inclusivity for all

So, while I get a lot out of my day-to-day work, it’s my position as a mentor and role model that really excites me. 

This all comes through my involvement in our Ethnicity Working Group. Inclusivity isn't just about getting more people from ethnically diverse backgrounds in the door. It's about getting different perspectives, having meaningful conversations and making real changes. Through this working group, we’re making that happen. 

For example, when the Black Lives Matters protests started in 2020, it sparked discussions across Lloyds Banking Group about perception and racism in society. Our Ethnicity Working Group and others like us helped create the BOLD network in response: a Black Organisation for Leadership and Development. Through it, we’re working hard to create an environment where all Black colleagues feel empowered, supported and inspired, as well as helping our leaders and non-Black heritage colleagues become better allies.

Mentoring matters

This year I am one of the Group’s ‘Reach’ Role Models – an accolade I won because of the work and mentoring I’ve been doing for the Ethnicity Working Group and how I’m helping to build a good inclusion and diversity program across our business, but especially within the Legal & Secretariat department. None of the accolades would be possible without a strong leadership and support from those around me and this a testimony to Lloyds Banking Group, and the mentoring within my department and the  efforts in embedding inclusivity into everything we do.

I’ve heard many people tell me that they don’t see themselves being able to work in law or financial services – they think it’s unattainable for them. This is all because of outdated perceptions around banking and law. I am hopeful these perceptions will soon become myths. 

Related content

Inclusion and diversity

Inclusion is central to our business success, and we know that colleagues who can show up to work as themselves are those that can bring their best.

Inclusion and diversity Opens in same tab

Culture and inclusion

We pride ourselves on creating a great environment for colleagues to work in – one which is inclusive, driven by our values, and where everyone can be themselves.

Our culture

Colleague stories

Hear first-hand from our colleagues across the business about their diverse experiences and why they love working at the Group.

Colleague stories