Shaun Epps

Pride 2020

Pride Inside

Part of our commitment to the LGBT+ community and championing true diversity and inclusion.

Why we celebrate Pride

Our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community comes from within – our colleagues. While the Pride parades may not happen this year, we’re continuing to raise awareness of challenges faced by the community and to show our support by sharing their stories.

Our commitment to equality

Championing equality, understanding, respect and inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community is important to us. We want every one of our colleagues to feel comfortable being themselves at work. It’s central to our culture here at Barclays. We nurture it through activities and initiatives, and building networks for colleagues to connect.

We also hold a broader vision where everyone in the communities we work in and beyond feels supported and embraced for who they are.

Over the years, this has included

  • Supporting marriage equality bills in the UK and US
  • Sponsoring Pride celebrations across the world, including sponsoring Pride in London since 2014 and supporting many regional events
  • Being the first bank to promote a transgender woman to the position of branch manager
  • Offering private medical cover for transitioning trans colleagues
  • Being the first bank to feature LGBT couples in our advertising
  • We’re a Stonewall Top 50 UK employer
  • We’re part of Team Pride and the Rainbow Laces campaign
  • An Open For Business partner – a coalition of global companies making the case that inclusive, diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth

We believe everyone has unique talents and perspectives worth sharing. That’s why our culture is focused on ensuring people feel comfortable, included and nurtured. We aim to empower every colleague to feel confident being their true self at work.

Our vision is supported by five global pillars of focus: Disability, Gender, LGBTQ+, Multicultural and Multigenerational. 

Colleague Stories

Here are some examples of the work we’ve been doing to make our company a truly inclusive place to work.

Select colleague story
  • Thakur’s story
    Thakur Singh

    Thakur Singh, Process Advisor, Barclays Financial Assistance

    Thakur joined Barclays in 2018. When he found out that our employee health insurance policies cover gender reassignment surgery, he made an appointment at the hospital in Delhi to explore his options. Speaking to a counsellor there, he came to truly know himself and learned how to articulate his feelings. Having the right words boosted his confidence in a profound way.

    Thakur realised he identifies as bisexual queer, and soon felt ready to come out to his colleagues. He decided to reveal his pride inside during a colleague cultural activity day by doing what he loves most: belly dancing.

    His team was kind, and open. They were eager to learn more about him.  “I hope you don’t mind me asking a personal question,” one colleague said afterwards. “How do you identify?” Thakur found everyone at Barclays to be supportive. “I was grateful for this, because in India, the LGBTQ+ community still faces many challenges. While it’s not illegal, it’s still not easy to accept the way you are,” he explains.

    “I would tell anyone who is going through this to first understand themselves and accept the way they are,” says Thakur. “It’s more important than having anyone else accept you. Love yourself first, then you’ll have the words you need to tell others.” 

  • Joe’s story
    Joe Cutts

    Joe Cutts, Relationship Support Manager, Barclays Corporate Banking

    Growing up as a young gay man in a small mining town in the Midlands, Joe always felt lucky to have a supportive family. He’s seen many friends have a rough ride coming out over the years. For a long time, people have been looking to Joe for support, advice and an ear – it’s an aspect of himself that he brings to Barclays every day.

    Joe joined Spectrum (Barclays LGBTQ+ internal network) eight years ago, but it wasn’t until his manager urged him to raise his profile at work that Joe thought to share his passion for helping others on a larger scale. Becoming a voice for many, Joe now speaks at Barclays events on topics like gender identity, gender expression and sexuality.

    Being able to share from his own experience, the authenticity of his words draws his audience in. He’s since given over 30 talks with attendance as high as 85 people in one sitting.

    Joe’s genuine desire to act as a resource for colleagues across the UK not only helps people feel more confident in bringing their true selves to work, but also increases understanding around how to treat others with greater compassion and, often innocently lacking, tact.

    For instance, a Relationship Director whose client had gone from having a traditional masculine appearance to wearing women’s clothing recently came to Joe for advice. “You don’t want discomfort to snowball,” advises Joe. “Simply asking, ‘Which pronoun are you most comfortable with?’ in a private conversation is all that’s needed. There is still a lot of hate out there, so even a little step to make someone feel more comfortable goes a long way.”

  • Clare’s story
    Clare Coates

    Clare Coates, Head of Large Corporate Account Development, Barclaycard Payment Solutions

    Clare has been proudly out as a lesbian at Barclays since her interview nine years ago. A few years later, she joined Spectrum (Barclays LGBTQ+ internal network) and began speaking at panel events about what it’s like to be out in the workplace.

    Clare has found Barclays to be a positive environment for the LGBTQ+ community. “It’s actually more difficult to be out in your personal life where you’re interacting with more people that don’t know you,” Clare explains. “There’s still a lot of unconscious bias so you’re always coming out, and it can get awkward,” “for example, people might assume I have a husband, and I have to pause and consider whether I feel comfortable correcting them. Social media can feel even more distorting as it’s harder to read people’s meanings from their comments.”

    Another positive aspect of being out in the workplace that Clare is passionate about is the opportunity she gets to network and she would like to help get more women involved. “LGBTQ+ events have quite a low female attendance in general, but building confidence in these environments can help you bring your whole self to work and can open up opportunities,” says Clare.

    Clare credits the smooth move she made from Rugby to London to the friends she made through Spectrum. “While work events can be perceived as narrow and business focused, they can be a valuable support network and make you feel less alone.”

    Recently, Clare led a joint external event on Barclays’ behalf, bringing together different industries to pledge a commitment to drive bi inclusion and visibility in the workplace. “Being involved is important to me,” says Clare, “because I believe that as a community, we need to be allies to each other.”

  • Laura’s story
    Laura Padovani

    Laura Padovani, Global Chief Compliance Officer

    Laura Padovani is a member of Barclays Executive Committee and a proud ally. From a young age, she realised her sister was gay, and this is what motivated her to be involved in the LGBTQ+ community. “The way I saw it, I had a choice: be an open supporter and contribute my voice, or stay silent and feel like I was contributing to discrimination,” says Laura.

    In her role as Global Chief Compliance Officer, she’s clear on the importance of an inclusive environment. “If we’re all the same, it not only gets boring but we don’t have diversity of thought” she says. “This diversity of thought is what adds value. It’s fundamental to our success.”

    “At Barclays, the Executive Committee is inclusive and it’s not about fitting into a mould,” Laura continues. “We encourage people to embrace who they are and their way of thinking.”

    Laura remembers what banking was like 20 years ago and seeing friends hide the fact that they were gay because of discrimination. She empathises strongly, because until recently, her sister hid her reality from their parents.

    When Laura’s sister did come out, her mother found it difficult. It wasn’t until her mother attended a Pride event that she came to see inclusion and being out as a positive thing.

    “I’m very proud to be working at Barclays and I’m glad that we participate in important events like Pride,” says Laura. “Real inclusivity isn’t about having a slogan, it has to be something you live.

  • Sionice’s story
    Sionice Phillips

    Sionice Phillips, Deputy Market Leader, Barclays UK

    Sionice was bullied so badly for being trans as a child she left school at age 15. Thinking that she’d never fit into a ‘normal’ job and have a ‘normal’ life, she studied performing arts and soon had a career as a dancer in Spain. Still holding on to this perception when she moved back to England, she found work as a drag queen.

    Sionice wasn’t living the life she longed for. So when her best friend who worked at Barclays convinced her to apply for a job, she was hopeful. When Sionice got the role, she soon realised that Barclays had a strong inclusion agenda.

    “I had always lived by my own rules and been very independent, but I had no trans role model to follow,” she says. Quite the extrovert, Sionice would add sequins and accessories to her uniform and wear large hoop earrings. “I knew I could progress and saw that being trans wasn’t holding me back,” she explains.  

    Since then, Sionice’s career has accelerated and she’s proud of the role model she’s become to those she mentors. She’s also an active Spectrum (Barclays LGBTQ+ internal network) member, sharing her story and insight with people both inside and outside work.

    “Today, I have a career and family that I hadn’t dared dream of,” says Sionice. “The message I want to share is don’t try to fit into someone else’s perception of who you should be. The more you know yourself the more you’re able to love yourself and it will be your ultimate strength.” 

  • Shaun’s story
    Shaun Epps

    Shaun Epps, Key Client Development Manager, Barclays UK

    One of Shaun’s first jobs was with his father as a plumber. Early on, it was clear to him that it wasn’t the right fit. When applying for work elsewhere, he was conscious that being young, black and gay might be held against him. So Shaun decided his next step would be into an environment that embraced him for who he was.

    And so, Shaun soon found himself joining Barclays as a cashier in 2007. While the culture at the bank was among the reasons he had applied for the job, Shaun was initially conscious of being prejudged and not being taken seriously enough. “I always pay attention to how I’m being perceived,” he explains, “it’s about taking yourself seriously.”

    Shaun’s line manager at the time helped him believe in himself and become more confident in how other people relate to him. Since that time, Shaun has gone from strength to strength and is now a Key Client Development Manager, in Channel Business Development for Barclays Premier. “I now see my diversity as a powerful tool that enables me to connect with people across the board. It’s through building relationships I was able to flourish.”

    It’s one of the key messages Shaun shares with the people he mentors. “It’s important to be open minded and believe in your own power. If you’re not being heard or taken seriously, you need to make a change and be open to that change. And if you can do that while staying true to yourself, you’ll build those relationships that will help you achieve your goals.”

  • Carrie’s story
    Carrie Edwards

    Carrie Edwards, Senior Project Manager, US Consumer Bank

    Carrie had long heard of the inclusive culture at Barclays, so when a contract role opened up in 2013, she jumped at the chance. “I was afraid that as a contractor I’d be treated like an outsider, but my aim was to get a permanent role at Barclays, so I saw this as a foot in the door,” she says.

    Even though she never felt like an outsider at her previous workplace, she recognised people weren’t always comfortable. “People weren’t comfortable with the fact that I’m lesbian. When my wife sent flowers to my work and people learned that I was married to a woman, they were shocked.”

    Even though Carrie knew Barclays was an inclusive place to work, she was surprised at just how inclusive the environment was. “You don’t really know the company’s values before you join ,” she says. “I was surprised to be surrounded by colleagues who not only accepted me, but genuinely wanted to know me.” “This helped me thrive personally, but it’s also a great value for any company to hold. If you come to work feeling confident in your skin, you’re destined to do a great job – there’s nothing holding you back.”

    A year later, Carrie’s role was made permanent. She is a very active Spectrum (Barclays LGBTQ+ internal network) member, and has recently been nominated for a Barclays Diversity & Citizenship award. “I love being able to share the positivity that I was welcomed with” she says. “ And it’s great to see the world changing. Today colleagues aren’t asking for advice about their own journeys, but because their children are coming out. Kudos to these parents who have created homes where children are comfortable talking about these things, and kudos to Barclays for creating a network whose impact and value to colleagues extends beyond the office walls.”