Virtually Down Your Way

Most bi groups meet in physical spaces but sometimes meeting virtually is the only way – take the creative approach to supporting bi staff that Lloyds Bank has taken. All staff can log in to webinar discussion software wherever in the country they are – so holding regular webinars gives bi staff a way to hold virtual meetings that they can attend whether in HQ or some far-flung branch. When we found out we just had to talk to them to find out more… so we caught up with Rosemary Bingham, Bi lead on the LGBT staff network.

First could you tell me a little about the LGBT network at Lloyds Banking Group – how long has it been going and how big is it?
Hello – firstly thanks for your interest in our network, we’re thrilled to be profiled in BCN!
The LGBT+ network at Lloyds Banking Group is called Rainbow, and it has been running since 2010. In just 9 years we’ve come a long way – from just over 600 members and 80 supporters when we first launched, to over 1,700 members and 3,000 supporters today. Our member base is spread over the whole of the UK from the Orkney Islands to Jersey, and includes colleagues in a whole range of jobs including management, IT, digital transformation, customer services and high street branches. The Rainbow network is staffed entirely by volunteers and offers a range of services and events such as mentoring, job shadowing, film nights and coffee meetups. We’re passionate about making sure that wherever they work, all of our LGBT+ colleagues can bring their whole selves to work.

How did you come to get involved?
I joined Lloyds Banking Group in 2016 on the Graduate Scheme and immediately sought out the LGBT+ network. I’d been out at uni, and didn’t want to go back in to the closet at work – a danger especially for bisexuals like me who are in opposite sex relationships. Luckily, I found Rainbow on day one and signed up on the spot! I started dialling in to the monthly bi group calls (known as ‘Bi-Talk’) and found that I often had quite a lot to say about the discussion topics… The bi lead at the time got in touch to say he needed people like me who were vocal and enthusiastic to help him and the rest of the bi working group to run the calls; I enthusiastically accepted and helped out until the end of last year, when he announced his departure from the bank and left me in charge!

So what does the bi group do?
Our number one priority is visibility – we want bisexual employees of Lloyds Banking Group to have visible role models, to have the option to safely come out to their managers and teams, and to know that there are other bisexual colleagues who they can speak to for help and advice, or just to chat. We put on events to celebrate bi visibility day, get involved in pride during the summer, and meet virtually via web conference every month for Bi-Talk.

Wow, a virtual meeting. For a widely spread network that sounds like a great use of tech. How do the meetings go – are there themes? What issues come up from network members?
Being able to talk on the phone or by video conference is absolutely essential for our network – we’re so spread out around the UK! Our Bi-Talk calls are loosely structured around a different theme each month; throughout 2018 for example, we based each call on a different chapter of Kate Harrad’s fantastic book ‘Purple Prose – Bisexuality in Britain’. During the year we covered the intersection of bisexuality with disability, religion, non-monogamy, fiction and literature, BAME identities and gender, and this year we’re discussing being bisexual and non-binary, bisexual charities and how you can get involved with them, and much more!

I hear that you also have external guests on your Bi-Talk calls?
The Lloyds Banking Group Rainbow network supports a range of brilliant LGBT+ charities, including Opening Doors London, the Albert Kennedy Trust, Mermaids and Mind Out, and the bi network also supports bi charities where we can. Last year we had the good fortune to be introduced to Bi Pride UK, who we have worked with for a Visibility Day event and would love to support further in the future, including coordinating our 2020 pride appearances so that members of Bi Pride UK and Lloyds Banking Group will have a group to march with no matter which pride event they attend. – watch this space!

And finally, how can any Lloyds Bank staff reading join in the virtual meetings?
Look for our page on the group intranet by searching ‘Visi-BI-lity’, keep your eye out for our events when they’re advertised by the Rainbow mailbox, or just drop me an email and I’ll point you in the right direction! We’d love to have you along.

Thankyou!

 

BCN issue 156 cover

This first appeared in BCN magazine issue 156, July/August 2019.