In this Q&A with Eoghan McArdle (Legal Counsel & Co-Chair of LGBT Network at Bank of England) we discover how the vibrant LGBT+ Network at the Bank of England operates, how they’re bringing about change in policies within the organisation, and activities they have planned during LGBT Pride month this June 2018!
Hi Eoghan, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about the LGBT Network at the Bank of England (BoE) – could you tell our readers briefly about your role and the network?
I am a lawyer in the Bank of England and have been co-chair of the Bank’s LGBT+ and Allies Network since April 2017. The Network was founded by staff in 2006, making it one of the longest-running employee networks in the Bank. The Network is open to all members of staff, whether they are LGBT+ or an ally. Out of a total workforce of about 4,000, we have about 350 members – growing steadily – led by a steering group of around a dozen members.
What does the Network campaign for at the BoE? Have there been any significant changes in policies at BoE as a result of the network?
The Network aims to promote an open and inclusive work environment at the Bank where LGBT+ people feel included and are able to bring their whole selves to work. We offer confidential support to staff dealing with issues relating to sexual orientation or gender identity. We host regular socials, speaker events, awareness-raising sessions, and do some fundraising.
In 2016, we formally opened the Network to “ally” members. Today, many hundreds of staff members display rainbow-coloured postcards at their desks to show that that they are allies. This has had a very positive impact in creating an LGBT-inclusive atmosphere at the Bank.
To ensure that policies are inclusive of LGBT+ people, the Network engages with administrative teams within the Bank (e.g. HR, Facilities, Security etc.) Some recent examples of this work include inputting on the Bank’s new Transgender Policy, and successfully campaigning for unisex/gender-neutral toilets.
Is the BoE participating in any activities during LGBT Pride month?
This year will be the Bank of England’s fourth time participating in the Pride in London parade. Taking part in Pride is a highlight of the year for our Network – it is a bold and colourful celebration of the diversity of our city.
Together with the LGBT+ networks of some other public sector financial services bodies, we form a single marching group under the name “StandOUT”. Last year over 300 of us – LGBT+ staff members, allies, family members and friends – took part. This year, with the support of the Bank of England Ethnic Minorities Network (BEEM), we are also planning to attend Black Pride in Vauxhall the day after the main parade.
Our Network has a few other events lined up in the run-up to Pride: a pub social where people who intend on coming to Pride or Black Pride can meet each other in advance of the big day; and a guided, LGBT-themed tour of the V&A museum; and a “wear your rainbow to work” dress-down day.
This year will be the Bank’s third year flying the rainbow flag above our offices on the weekend of Pride in London. We believe this is an incredibly powerful, positive statement of support for LGBT+ people from a major institution in the heart of the City.
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, said: “The Bank of England recognises that to pursue its mission it must reflect the diversity of the people it serves. Our employee network helps to promote an open and inclusive work environment, symbolised by our flying the rainbow flag above the Bank to mark Pride. I wish our network and all participants a great parade!”
What does it mean to you to be involved?
In my career, I have been fortunate in that I have had a relatively easy time being myself at work and bringing my whole self to work; but I know this is sadly not the case for everyone. For me, being involved in the Network gives me an opportunity to play a role in shaping the Bank’s culture and to make a difference. I am passionate about diversity and inclusion and have witnessed first-hand the positive impact a strong employee network group can have in making a workplace more inclusive, friendlier and more rewarding.