I was delighted to be invited by David Lever, Senior Marketing Manager at HSBC to their Panel Discussion exploring the importance of role models from schools to the world of business. The discussion focussed on two groups where role models can make a particular difference - the LGBT community and senior women in the workplace. The evening was facilitated by Brian Heyworth, HSBC's Global Head of Financial Institutions Group and Executive Co-Sponsor of Pride UK. The panel was made up as follows -
Antonio Simoes, HSBC's Regional Commercial Director for London
Carol Bagnald, HSBC's Regional Commercial Director for London
Suran Dickson, CEO of the anti-bullying charity Diversity Role Models
Colleen Humphrey, Director of Workplace for the gay equality charity Stonewall
Gail Peyton, Headteacher of Sir James Barrie Primary School in Wandsworth
The audience was made up of about 200 people, mainly members of HSBC staff, both gay and straight. Delightfully HSBC offices around the UK were able to be streamed in and when it came to the Q and A part of the evening we were able to share the evening's experience with them.
Initially Brian Heyworth started the proceedings off by posing various questions to the panel such as what is it like being openly gay in the workplace or not coming out? How does this impact on your career? Who makes a good role player? Carol Bagnald who is a single mother and has an 18 year old son spoke about making a career with bringing up a child on your own. There are too many discussion points to mention but the panel covered many aspects of being LGBT in the workplace and maybe being seconded to another country where being gay is not acceptable.
The evening over ran but there was still time for a Q and A session and although I was not posing a question I put up my hand to say how impressed I was with the panel and then proceeded to say who I was and who I represented. Being in my usual garb I said that obviously I was not a banker as I was dressed in leggings, long boots and a bright top! This caused a ripple of laughter. I said that the first role model any person has is really their parent and that if your parents support you in your development be you straight or gay hopefully you will go forward taking with you all that is necessary to become a role model yourself in later life.
When we broke up for drinks and canapes I was surrounded by a number of people who wanted to know more about FTL. In fact David Lever wants HSBC to link up with us in some way.
It was a stimulating evening and never in my wildest dreams did I think that when I joined FTL six or so years ago I would be sitting on the 41st floor of HSBC's Head Office, looking down at London and speaking to so many people.
Funny old life!!