Michael E Fairey: We're proud that our people are as diverse as the communities they serve

When we started to focus on sexual orientation, we were told by groups such as Stonewall that this is often seen as "the last acceptable form of discrimination", and that it can be the litmus test of whether an organisation has truly been successful in creating a culture which is inclusive. For Lloyds TSB, our people are our number one asset. If they prosper, we prosper, so we treat them well. For us, this means valuing the whole person and nurturing all of their various skills, talents and experience.

We have worked closely with our lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) staff to understand how being in the organisation feels for them, and the best way to deal with any issues. With their help, we have been able to develop a range of measures to support them, including a very active staff network called Spectrum. Spectrum has its own website, which staff can access either at work or at home. The network is also currently in the process of developing an information line which will complement the existing specialist advice and counselling services that are available within the organisation.

We recognise that our lesbian, gay and bisexual colleagues can sometimes feel isolated, and that access to positive role models is crucial in giving them the confidence to be open about their sexual orientation at work. We have therefore created a mentoring database which allows staff to search for a mentor who is gay or has an interest in LGB issues. We believe that staff who can be themselves are more likely to fulfil their potential and hence make their fullest contribution to our business goals.

All of our diversity training courses have been revised to place greater emphasis on sexual orientation issues, and all of our policies have been reviewed to ensure they are fully open to LGB staff, and to same-sex partners. However, our sexual orientation strategy isn't just about getting the right policies, procedures and training into place - that's the easy bit! Therefore, we have also been working proactively with every part of our business to ensure sexual orientation is high on their agenda and integrated into everything they do.

Feedback shows that our managers and staff now feel more comfortable talking about sexual orientation issues, and they understand why this is crucial for our business success.

Executive leadership has been key in getting us to this position. When we first started to look at sexual orientation, we conducted a major piece of research which was sponsored by our group chief executive. He fronted all of the communication about the research, including the results. His commitment to our sexual orientation strategy is now filtering down the organisation. I am the group's board sponsor for equality and diversity, and I am personally committed to pushing this agenda forward.

I hosted the launch event for our Spectrum network earlier this year, at which I was joined by many of our LGB staff, as well as several of our most senior executives. I'm pleased to say that after the event, a number of the attendees sent personal messages to both me and the co-chairs of Spectrum to offer their full support for the Group's work on sexual orientation and to give their personal commitment to ensure that LGB staff within their business units are fully engaged and at ease.

At Lloyds TSB, diversity is a long-term commitment and although we have made some good progress we recognise that keeping any issue high on the agenda takes energy and regular, positive communication. This year we have had the opportunity to publicise some very exciting developments. For instance, we are sponsoring a forthcoming Stonewall booklet, highlighting the new legal rights LGB people will have when the goods and services regulations come into force later this year. We plan to distribute this through our branch network and hope that it will allow us to publicly demonstrate our commitment to our LGB customers as well as our staff.

We will continue this momentum as we move forward, constantly looking for the most successful initiatives around sexual orientation from which we can learn and benefit. We will also continue to work with our LGB staff to measure how well things are going and what more we need to do. If how we deal with sexual orientation really is the test of how inclusive our culture is, then this is one test we intend to pass with flying colours!

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