‘Our work for diversity and inclusion in AIB gives us the greatest sense of Pride’
The bank’s Pride Matters, set up in 2017, has made major strides in creating an inclusive culture for LGBT+ staff
Sé Sweeney-McCabe: ‘We continually engage with LGBT+ charities and community groups to learn from them and to see what AIB as an organisation can do to help them reach their objectives.’
“In May 2017, Pride Matters was founded in AIB at a meeting of 12 colleagues in what you would expect of a typical meeting room. In fact, it was an old corporate meeting room that would have had its ‘hey day’ in the times where no one dared to be openly queer or any letter of the LGBT+ acronym in financial services,” says Sé Sweeney-McCabe, strategic project lead of people engagement at AIB and AIB Pride leader.
It was, perhaps a fitting place for the AIB Pride journey to be born, he says.
“After that initial meeting, it was apparent that there was huge support for the Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) in AIB.
“That June we started our journey with a mini internal LGBT+ ‘road show’. This road show was really just two members of the ERG setting up stalls in offices around the country to mark and celebrate Pride in as many locations as we could.”
The goal was to start a conversation and create an awareness of LGBT+ in the workplace.
“The team talked to anyone who wanted to learn more and explained what the ERG wanted to achieve, and captured what employees wanted from Pride Matters. On getting a lot of positive attention and feedback – the free cupcakes we had on offer definitely helped – we learnt that people really wanted to know more and were genuinely interested.”
From there, the team set out to make sure four main things would happen over the next two years, things that “would be authentic to AIB”, Sweeney-McCabe says.
“These where: education of AIB staff; ensuring senior leadership support was visible; empowering the members of the ERG to make positive change; and reaching out to the LGBT+ community to see how we can help.”
This led to several new milestones for the bank, including its first ever company-wide Pride day, the company and all senior management pledging for inclusion, running LGBT+ 101 educational master classes and creating inclusive restroom facilities.
The bank also participated in Pride parades across Ireland, publicly supported Businesses for Marriage Equality in Northern Ireland, and ensured diversity and inclusion education was included at inductions for all staff.
“We also spoke with other organisations and shared our learnings so they too could create a culture that was inclusive for LGBT+ staff,” says Sweeney-McCabe. “Looking back, it’s been a crazy two years.”
The bank is now looking to the future to see how it, as a company, can affect more change. “We are in the process of creating ‘Transitioning in the workplace’ guides and enabling our technologies to allow non-binary employees and customers to identify in whichever way is true to themselves. We also continually engage with LGBT+ charities and community groups to learn from them and to see what AIB as an organisation can do to help them reach their objectives,” he says.
“We are in a very positive space but do know we have more to learn and are providing ourselves the space and time as an organisation to do this. We are a modern organisation that is committed to onward progress. The work done for diversity and inclusion in AIB gives us the greatest sense of Pride.”