An interview with Chris Maddren and Emily Smith-Reid, Co-Chairs of HSBC UK’s Pride Network.

Apart from being the co-chairs of HSBC UK’s Pride network, what is your professional role within HSBC UK?

Chris: “My role at HSBC UK is HR Generalist. This means supporting a local business area on various HR focus areas including D&I (Diversity and Inclusion). It’s a great role as a lot of the work I do for the Pride Network crosses over into the work I do as an HR Generalist. I can support the business in ensuring that our D&I initiatives and events are landed effectively and our people are engaged and informed of what the bank is doing.”

Emily: “I am Deputy General Counsel in HSBC UK’s Group Legal function. So I lead teams of lawyers around the globe to manage and advise on legal risks for our businesses and help ensure HSBC UK does the right thing for its customers. For me, helping to make HSBC UK a diverse and inclusive place to work for LGBT+ colleagues is part of creating a culture that leads to us all doing the right thing.”

HSBC UK champions diversity in the workplace. How does it do that, and what effect does that have on LGBT+ staff, and on the workplace (LGBT+ and straight) in general?

Chris: “There’s all sorts of ways HSBC UK is championing diversity. One of our most recent initiatives has been the launch of gender neutral titles available for customers and our own people to use. Prior to launch we delivered training sessions across our customer facing teams about the changes and how they can better support our LGBT+ customers. We’ve been the first major bank to do this and our people are rightly proud of HSBC UK stepping up and leading on this change.”

Emily: “The effect is to make people feel good about working at HSBC UK, helping us to retain/ recruit a diverse workforce as well as better reflecting the diversity of our customer base. It also helps give people the confidence to be open about who they are, which is hugely important.”

How easy is it to come out as LGBT+ at HSBC UK, and what advantages are there in coming out in the workplace?

Chris: “Personally I feel it is very easy to come out at work as we are a very inclusive employer; however, I recognise that not everyone will feel the same. We launched our own ally network last November which is championed by a member of our Group Management Board. We recognise the value that allies play in promoting an inclusive and tolerant workplace and we’ve provided ally training to senior leaders across the business and gained their commitment to drive its importance across their teams.”

Emily: “I agree with Chris. I’d add that if we feel able to be open at work about who we are, we feel more engaged with HSBC UK as an organisation, we build better relationships with people and we’re likely to be more successful – as well as generally being much happier.”

What events does HSBC UK’s Pride Network organise – both nationally and internationally, and both socially and professionally?

Chris: “We aim to deliver four key speaker events each year supported by networking, lunches and social events. We connect with our global chapters in the US, Canada and Asia Pacific and deliver a global focus of Pride events in June. We also have a very effective regional network with local chapters across the UK ensuring we have events running outside of London.”

What do you think was the greatest achievement in 2017 of HSBC UK’s Pride Network?

Chris: “Personally, I feel our greatest achievement has been the embedding of our ally network. We’ve gained commitment at senior level to roll out across the entire bank network and we set very ambitious targets for sign-ups by the end of 2017.”

Emily: “I agree and that will remain a huge focus area for us in 2018. In addition, we’re incredibly proud of the work HSBC UK has done in supporting Trans people and the recognition from Stonewall for our work in this area in the form of their Global Trans Inclusion Award.”

HSBC is in Stonewall’s top 100 global employers list. How important is this list to you?

Chris: “Inclusion in the index is very important to me. It shows both our people and potential employees our demonstrative commitment to inclusion and diversity. Being in the top 100 highlights our focus areas and supports us in influencing policy and direction at bank level – that’s something I’m incredibly proud to be a part of. We need to ensure we don’t get complacent and continue to progress to be as inclusive as possible to LGBT+ colleagues and customers.”

Will HSBC UK be supporting Pride marches in the UK this year?

Chris: “We will definitely be back at Pride in London again this year. The atmosphere last year was electric and our people absolutely loved being a part of it. The final details are still being worked on so that’s all I can reveal for now but we will be there – and in numbers!”

Emily: “In addition we will again be headline sponsor of Birmingham Pride (where HSBC UK is now headquartered) as well as having a presence at a number of other Pride marches around the country. These are a fun and symbolically important way to support the LGBT+ community, but our focus on LGBT+ inclusion continues year-round and not just in “Pride season”.”