As colleagues from the FCA prepare to take part in Leeds Pride alongside other organisations, we wanted to focus on why inclusion is important throughout the year.
This is our opportunity to show that Leeds and our relatively new Leeds’ office is a safe and welcoming space for all colleagues, whoever they are. Half of those marching with us are allies rather than members themselves of the LGBT+ community.
Recently, I marched at the London event with around 60 of my FCA and PSR colleagues as part of StandOut, the financial public sector’s umbrella LGBT+ network.
On that day we came together as one community to reflect on the progress made towards LGBT+ equality and to acknowledge that our journey is not yet finished.
‘Never march alone’ was this year’s Pride theme and it was emblazoned across the front of every one of our matching blue StandOut T-Shirts along with the trans flag.
That theme, which is about allyship, felt particularly relevant in these times of challenge for the LGBT+ community both domestically and internationally. Waving our varied Pride Flags, including the progress, trans and non-binary flags, reminded me just how important that ability to come together is and just how much can be achieved when we bring our voices together with purpose.
Sheldon Mills, our executive director of consumers and competition, also attended the Trans Pride event recently.
Sheldon said: ‘This was a march for transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming and intersex people, so as a cisgender gay man, I was an ally and that made me reflect on the need to continually seek to support and make visible the less than 1% of the population who are transgender and face significant challenges in so many aspects of their daily lives.’
He was struck by how London Trans Pride served equally as a celebration, a protest and a way of enhancing visibility.
Pride should be year-round
Yet Pride should be about more than calendar events – it should be about the value of equality and respect that we afford all people year-round.
LGBT+ people are almost twice as likely – 44% compared to 25% of adults who do not identify as LGBT+ - to disagree that they have confidence in the UK financial services industry.
Many of the firms we regulate are regular participants at Pride events and there is much good work that we see being done across the financial services industry to support the LGBT+ community. We should recognise and applaud that work.
But there is more that we can achieve together.
Survey identifies trust gap
For the past two years, the FCA has included LGBT+ specific questions in its Financial Lives Survey to ask consumers whether they have confidence in the UK financial services industry.
The survey shows that LGBT+ people are almost twice as likely – 44% compared to 25% of adults who do not identify as LGBT+ - to disagree that they have confidence in the UK financial services industry.
They are more than twice as likely to say they strongly disagree with the statement – 20% versus 9% respectively.
They were also more than twice as likely to strongly disagree that financial service firms were honest and transparent in the way they treat them – 19% vs 9% of non-LGBT+ adults.
LGBT+ customers were also more likely to report experiencing problems with their day-to-day accounts over the last 12 months – 20% vs 13% - and one and a half times more likely to experience a problem with credit products over the same period – 24% vs 16%.
Overall, LGBT+ adults had lower levels of trust in the industry even when age and household income was taken into account.
Naturally, we need to get behind those statistics and better understand what the drivers for that perception are.
Only by working together to share knowledge, to identify and harness best practice and to drive change, can we hope to improve the LGBT+ community’s level of confidence.
Marching at Leeds Pride is just one small step we can take to celebrate how far we have come on our bigger journey towards equality.