Leading Initiatives for LGBT+ Inclusion and Community Support – Virgin Money

 

In our “Pride. Purpose. Progress.” campaign, we’re showcasing what organisations and individuals are doing behind the flag, telling the stories of how brands and organisations support the progress of the LGBTQ+ community. This campaign highlights the significant initiatives that demonstrate commitment to inclusivity, equality, and the continued support of LGBTQ+ individuals. Here’s how Virgin Money is making a difference.

Describe the impact of your organisation’s initiatives on the LGBT+ community and how they have contributed to positive change.

We work hard to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community is represented within our colleague population. We have representation targets for all under-represented groups, including LGBTQ+. Our 2025 target for LGBTQ+ representation is 4%, and we have already achieved this target. We will sustain and further increase this representation by being proactive in how we source candidates and drive fairness within our interview and assessment processes.

We have a thriving and committed LGBTQ+ Network called Vibrant, which is extremely proactive and successful in amplifying voices of the LGBTQ+ community, telling stories, sharing experiences, and providing safe and supportive spaces for colleagues. As part of our Network Governance, all of our colleague Networks have committed executive sponsorship, helping illuminate important topics for colleagues and ensuring visibility at the most senior level. Our colleague communications teams work hard to ensure under-represented voices are heard, shining a light on topics and celebrations that are really important for our LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies. Through our dedicated editorial squad, we ensure that our LGBTQ+ colleagues feel they have a dedicated share of the voice internally.

How does your company foster a sense of community and belonging for LGBT+ individuals, both within the organisation and in external communities?

At Virgin Money, we have a clear purpose of Making You Happier About Money, which is a guiding principle that runs through everything we do to support our colleagues, customers, and the communities that we serve. We strive to be an inclusive employer that supports colleagues regardless of their gender identity or background, tackling any barriers preventing them from thriving. We believe our colleagues deliver their best for our customers when they feel safe to be themselves at work. Inclusion is at the heart of our culture, embedded in our values, our expectations of leaders, and as a unifying thread across our business.

In September 2023, we launched our allyship programme BRAVER (Believe, Reflect, Accountable, Vulnerable, Empathy and Recognise), driven by our central purpose. BRAVER provides a clear opportunity to embed accountability for achieving progress in diversity and inclusion across the bank. The A in BRAVER stands for “Accountability.” We created an actionable framework, developed bank-wide communications aligning BRAVER with our broader purpose, and built a resource hub to inform and train colleagues on the aims and objectives of the framework. Since its launch, feedback from colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive. The hub was visited over 6000 times in the first 3 weeks, demonstrating the interest colleagues have in educating themselves on active allyship and how to be meaningful allies.

Of note in fostering a sense of belonging for LGBTQ+ colleagues is our Family Leave Policy. Our gender-neutral approach to family leave goes beyond the law, recognising that all families are different and unique. Our policy supports all families, whether they have same-sex parents, transgender parents, or others. All colleagues have access to the same leave and pay across various family leave elements, and we ensure our promotional and policy imagery represents diverse families too.

Can you share a specific example of how your company’s initiatives have made a difference in the lives of LGBT+ individuals or communities?

Our career sponsoring programmes are a great example. We have run multiple cycles of this programme, with our next cohort being our Vibrant Network. These programmes help accelerate and advance careers within our respective community groups. Many participants go on to successfully change roles through promotions or lateral moves, as well as building skills, confidence, and networks.

For Pride, Virgin Money sponsors Glasgow’s Pride as part of our commitment to our staff to attend pride each year. This showcases our commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion, not just internally but externally to our customers. Each year we go bigger and better, increasing the number of network members and allies attending the event, making a splash across our social media. We bring Pride to life in every branch across the country, aligning their campaigns to their local Pride to show solidarity with the local LGBTQ+ community.

We ensure our work during Pride Month represents the breadth of our community by showcasing intersectionality through our Disability Pride events, talks from Hidayah on race, religion, and LGBTQ+ identity, and making each event accessible for all. Each year at Pride, we also sponsor LGBT Youth Scotland, enhancing their presence at the Pride Hub youth space to bring their amazing work to those in need. Year-round, we provide safe meeting spaces for LGBT Youth Scotland to host everything from youth events to Pride breakfasts and even their AGM.

Our support for LGBT Youth Scotland goes beyond providing spaces for meetings, saving them an estimated £8k per year. We also hold fundraising events, donate laptops for use in the (un)seen (un)heard project, and provide staff to support their events, most recently the launch of the (un)seen (un)heard project and fundraising at Kinky Boots the musical.

How does your company measure the effectiveness of its LGBT+ inclusion initiatives, and what outcomes have been achieved?

We prioritise LGBTQ+ inclusion and share its importance, backing it up with action by creating the right infrastructure within the organisation. This includes a robust inclusion policy with specific references to LGBTQ+ communities, the appropriate spectrum of policies, and inclusive language in policies and communications. We ensure facilities like bath and shower rooms are inclusive and that LGBTQ+ colleagues are represented in communications and celebrations. We provide specific LGBTQ+ inclusion training and storytelling sessions to create awareness and understanding of others’ lived experiences. Support and career sponsorship programmes specifically for LGBTQ+ colleagues help ensure they feel supported to grow and thrive at work, retaining great talent.

An ongoing cycle of listening and responding to colleagues in the community keeps us attuned to how colleagues are feeling and what action needs to be taken or how our efforts may need to pivot. Senior leaders being vocal allies for the LGBTQ+ community and meaningful allyship more broadly are crucial. Partnering with an external third party like Stonewall helps us share ideas and have actionable measurement frameworks in place.

In what ways does your organisation collaborate with external partners and stakeholders to advance LGBT+ rights and inclusion?

We partner closely with Stonewall as a strategic partner, participating in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index each year to measure our progress and address gaps in our approach based on their findings and recommendations. We also partner with Unite and their equality representatives, who sit on several external committees. This external engagement is extremely beneficial, allowing us to actively discuss our company activity and share knowledge and opportunities.

How do you ensure that your organisation’s commitment to LGBT+ inclusion is reflected in its policies, practices, and culture?

In 2023, we reset our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) strategy with four central pillars. Two of these core pillars focus on attracting, retaining, and advancing under-represented talent and creating equity in the colleague experience by removing bias and barriers to structural and behavioural inclusion. We are creating a truly inclusive culture at Virgin Money, where all colleagues can be themselves, feel valued, and respected.

To do this successfully, we have two additional pillars: “Creating leadership accountability” to drive clear action and better outcomes for colleagues and customers, and “shifting mindsets and building BRAVER into our culture.” We have two internal colleague communities to help us test and co-create policies and practices pertaining to LGBTQ+ inclusion. Our Vibrant Network provides feedback on products, customer experiences, policies, and language use, ensuring we prioritise LGBTQ+ inclusion. Our BRAVER influencers network, an intersectional community of colleagues committed to driving allyship and inclusion, offers valuable insight and feedback to ensure intentional LGBTQ+ inclusion.

We actively conduct equality reviews and engage with our inclusion networks when developing new policies or conducting annual reviews. We leverage the inclusion network and colleague expertise to gain insights from LGBTQ+ colleagues, ensuring we listen and meet their needs through our policies. A recent example is our review of our Transitioning at Work policy, for which we sought feedback from Unite, transgender and gender non-conforming colleagues, and our colleague network chairs.

Through our BRAVER framework, we are creating visible accountability for colleagues and leaders across Virgin Money to drive equity and inclusion through everyday interactions, use of language, decision-making, and communications. An inclusive culture is a must-have, not a nice-to-have, and we’re committed to ensuring all our HR Policies and Guidance are free from discrimination. Listening to our colleagues is important to us, and we value their feedback to help improve and develop our HR Policies and Guidance. This is why we provide a feedback facility to all our colleagues on our Policies.

Allyship is important to us. It helps foster and nurture a culture where colleagues feel safe, heard, and supported to thrive at work. Active allies can help combat discrimination, microaggressions, and exclusionary behaviours in the workplace, creating spaces where individuals feel safe to share their thoughts, knowing they will be heard and respected. When employees feel supported by allies, they are more likely to share their unique perspectives and creative ideas. Allyship sends the message that driving equity and conscious inclusion in the workplace is everyone’s role, not just an HR or ERG-led endeavour. To achieve a positive cultural tipping point, we need many colleagues to show up as allies for each other and speak up when something isn’t right. HR policies and network-led activity can help signpost the importance of the inclusion agenda, but allyship is where all colleagues can meaningfully drive more equitable outcomes for others.