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Diversity in Banking - What is it Like for Non-Binary People in a Culture that Struggles to Embrace Women?

December 19, 2017 | Lucy Cottle, Conference Producer
Our second instalment of the Spotlight on Diversity Champions blog series is with Pips Bunce. She shares her insight on coming out within a corporate world and the importance of remaining true to yourself.

Spotlight on Pips Bunce, Director and Head of Global Markets Core Engineering Integration Components, Credit Suisse

We are delighted that in this second instalment of the Spotlight on Diversity Champions blog series, Pips Bunce was able to share insight into the banking and finance industry’s culture, diversity and inclusion with us. Pips also spoke about coming out within a corporate world and the importance of remaining true to yourself.

Who is Pips Bunce?

Along with her role as Director and Head of Global Markets Technology Core Engineering Integration Components, Pips is co-chair of the firm’s LGBT Ally Program, which aims to encourage an inclusive work culture where all are encouraged to bring their whole self to work and to promote authenticity in the workplace regardless of gender identity, gender expression or sexuality. Pips identifies as gender fluid and has always been open and out both personally and professionally.




See the Q&A below with Pips Bunce, sharing advice on how to handle the culture in the banking and finance industry and discussing where the industry could be heading in terms of diversity and inclusion.

What does your role at Credit Suisse entail on a day-to-day basis?

I have multiple roles at Credit Suisse and whilst they are different jobs, the importance of culture and the significance of diversity and inclusion is key across all. I am a Director and head of Global Markets Core Engineering Integration Components which involves me driving many critical IT initiatives within the firm. I am also the co-lead of our LGBT & Ally program which helps foster an open and inclusive work environment for all and engaging our thousands of LGBT Allies.

What motivates you?

I am a firm advocate of meritocracy and a strong believer in the importance of authenticity. I am hugely motived by empowering people to be truly authentic in who they are, how they choose to identify and ensuring that whatever amazing fusion of characteristics someone happens to be, that all are celebrated (and not just tolerated) irrespective of their gender, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, mental health, disability, age or any of the other characteristics that make us amazingly different yet the same.

Having had several friends over the years take their own life purely because they felt they would never be truly accepted in the workplace for how they choose to identify, it’s so fulfilling for me to see the impact of having an LGBT & Ally program and how this positively changes the culture. I genuinely feel that if such programs were in place all those years ago, those dearly departed friends would still be with us today and so such initiatives really can make the difference between life and death.

Whether it is someone coming out in the workplace as LGBT, someone re-joining the workforce after a career break, someone breaking though the single, double or triple glass ceiling or growing our future pipeline of young talent from minority groups not currently represented in the workplace, all of these achievements motivate me in knowing that people have been empowered to be authentic and succeed regardless of who they are.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the banking and finance industry with regards to the culture?

"I would stress the importance of being truly authentic and ensure that you are always your true self and to ensure you feel confident that you are joining a firm that embraces all forms of diversity."

It’s been proven time and time again that diverse firms far out perform those that are not and the culture and general feeling of wellbeing in such firms is always so much better – this may sound like a minor point to some but is in my view key – as Ghandi rightly said, be the change that you want to see.

How did you start the discussion of gender fluidity in a corporate world?

Having been married over 23 years and with two children who are now 20 and 17, I’ve always been open and out about my gender identity to my family, friends, wife and children. It was however only a few years ago that I chose to come out as gender fluid and non-binary in the corporate workplace. Thankfully Credit Suisse are a very inclusive employer and so were keen to learn about this identity and champion how they can support someone who identifies in this way. For some on the Trans spectrum they wish to transition permanently, for those that are gender fluid, it is instead about gender expression and so for me, I express as female Pippa part of the week and male Phil the other part – as to when this happens to be, similar to many gender fluid people, I really do not know how I will feel like expressing until I wake on a given day.

Whilst Credit Suisse had experienced people on the Trans spectrum who wish to transition, they had not previously had anyone come out as any of the many other Trans identities such as gender fluid and/or non-binary and hence this was an educational journey for them.

"As part of this partnership they have produced educational guide books, videos, policy updates and much more to support many of the other Trans identities and so this was an easy discussion to have." 

Whilst it was scary being one of the first to come out (given that up to 4 percent of the population identify as non-binary), I did always feel supported in embracing my true identity in the corporate workplace and have been touched by how amazingly supportive people have been.

What support does Credit Suisse currently provide for the LGBTQ+ community?

Credit Suisse has a strong culture that supports all forms of diversity. As part of this, the LGBTQ+ is greatly supported thus fostering a workplace that is inclusive of all. One of the best catalysts for fostering such an inclusive LGBTQ+ environment is through our LGBT & Ally program. We have thousands of our staff signed up as Allies to show their support for the LGBT community. As part of this, our allies receive regular newsletters, events and opportunities to engage in LGBTQ+ inclusion activities and so our allies really feel engaged in helping promote LGBTQ+ inclusion.

"Whether our allies visibly display their ‘Proud to be an LGBT* ally’ sticker or get involved in our LGBT & Ally activities, these all make a massive difference to the culture of the firm and ensuring that all feel empowered to be their true self."

As a firm, we also take part in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index which ranks most leading firms on how they are doing with their LGBT inclusion. This ranking includes reviewing our policies, educational material and looking at specific activities to support the entire LGBT group. As part of this we can see how we rank compared to our sister firms as well as allowing us to focus on areas where we know further improvements can be made.

What do you want to see happen within the next 5 years when it comes to diversity within the banking and finance industry?

I would love to see all firms embrace every single form of diversity in a holistic fashion and ensure that no type of diversity is excluded from the party. It’s vital that firms do not focus solely on a single form of diversity as to do so could be catastrophic. Having made good progress on so many fronts, it is important to ensure that firms do not take their foot off the gas pedal in making such positive progress.

Addressing the various forms of diversity related challenges is not a tick box where you can invest for one year alone one type of diversity and assume you have tackled the challenges faced.

"Investment and progress is a long term need as improving culture is a marathon and not a sprint."

Given the platform that the banking and finance industry has, this should be used as a showcase for how firms should be embracing all forms of diversity so that other less progressed firms or SME’s can leverage the good work done by the finance industry firms.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to express themselves in the way you do incredibly in the corporate world?

I would encourage all to fully embrace your true authentic self as you will be amazed at the positive effect doing so can make. Ensure that you partner with your firm as they too can benefit from the experience, making positive improvements to their understanding, policies and educational material as part of this process.

There are many charities and organisations that your firm can engage with who will be able to provide assistance in this area and so the person or the firm are not alone and are not the first to embrace these nuances.

Having an active LGBT & Ally program makes a huge difference in empowering people to embrace their true self as they know that they are fully supported by the firm and their co-workers – ensuring that such a program is in place is a huge help.

Finally having role models in the firm at all levels articulating the significance and importance of LGBT inclusion is also key as this sends a clear message that again, the firm fully embraces authenticity and that people are encouraged to be their true self.

You can hear more from Pips in our 10 Pieces of Career Advice from Successful Women in Finance article.

"As Oscar Wilde says, be yourself as everyone else is taken!"

If you would like to share yours or someone else’s story for the Spotlight on Diversity Champions blog series, please email lucy@maddoxevents.com