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Does business do enough to create inclusive environments in and out of the workplace?

Lloyds Banking Group aims to create external programmes that make a difference, and better connect with colleagues, customers, and the diverse communities it serves.

One such programme is a partnership with Stonewall, the UK’s leading lesbian, gay and bisexual charity — the Youth Volunteering Programme supports and empowers young people aged 16–21 to get rid of homophobia in their communities. The Group wants to make lasting changes, not simply for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people, but for all young people in Britain’s schools, colleges, and universities. This programme, across communities, is one of the ways that the Group aims to be the best bank for customers.

The issues for young LGBT people
More than half of LGBT pupils experience homophobic bullying in Britain’s secondary schools and colleges.

Stonewall surveyed a number of LGBT students in UK schools and colleges and revealed that more than half of LGBT pupils experience homophobic bullying in Britain’s secondary schools and colleges. The long-term effect on victims can be devastating – abandoning further education, for example, and being at a higher risk of suicide, self-harm and depression.

The team at Lloyds Banking Group, working with a range of partners, recognised that to make change happen, they needed to work directly with young people themselves. In partnership with Stonewall, Lloyds Banking Group colleagues volunteered their time to help support young people to develop their skills and build confidence, so they could themselves bring about change in their own communities.

“The bullying went on for the whole five years I was at secondary school. From when I started to when I finished. I tried to fight back. I was depressed” Rab, 15, sixth form college (Greater London)

Collaboration leading to change

During the first year of its community partnership with Stonewall, a range of people from Lloyds Banking Group helped 75 young people become Youth Volunteers, who then took ownership of the anti-homophobia campaigns that year. This doubled in year two to 150.

Much of the support was provided through workshops, which helped the young people develop the skills they need to become Youth Volunteers, and had the added benefit of building CVs and improving their career prospects.

The Group recently extended its partnership with Stonewall for another year so the programme can be developed further.

Widening the net of opportunities

The success of the Youth Volunteering programme is down to the Lloyds Banking Group colleagues. Many of the volunteers are from the Group’s LGBT Network, the Rainbow Network, which spreads the word about the programme across the whole Group so that a wide and diverse range of colleagues have the opportunity to participate. Through regular regional meetings, events and the Rainbow newsletters everyone is kept up to date on the success of the partnership. These also raise the profile of the programme and encourage and motivate others to get involved.

You might also be interested in: What more should business do to support LGBT equality? Having LGBT employees happy and themselves at work can help business, says Jan Gooding of Aviva and Stonewall Does business do enough to foster inclusive and vibrant communities? Abby Chicken, John Lewis Partnership, explains the importance of their LGBT network

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