Recent actions include hosting a company-wide event for World AIDS day, led by Roland Chesters from the Terrence Higgins Trust, and a quiz night for LGBTQ+ History Month. The next event was supposed to be London Pride 2020, which had to be cancelled due to lockdown.
“In our last meeting we talked about the reallocation of our Pride entry fee and the importance of showing that we stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement,“ says web developer Sarah Deakin. “As a community, we owe a lot of our history and progress to black trans activists such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.“
Ongoing projects include distributing rainbow laces for Team Starling sports matches and setting up volunteer days with Just Like Us, a charity that supports LGBTQ+ positive role models for young people. Every Starling employee receives two days off per year to volunteer with a charity of their choice.
“I look forward to the #BendTheBank meetings because I know that we’ll get a lot of stuff done and have a laugh,“ says software engineer Malin Litwinski.
One thing that they’re working hard to improve is the reach of the network. “We really want to include allies. Even if you don’t fall into an identity that we’re campaigning for, you’re more than welcome to come to a meeting and get involved,“ says Malin. “We’re not doing this only for the LGBTQ+ community, we’re doing this so that everyone can get psyched about making our workplace as inclusive as it can be.“
Creating conversation starters
When it comes to being LGBTQ+ in the workplace, some people struggle to introduce that element of their identity to colleagues. To tackle this difficulty, #BendTheBank created badges with the Starling Pride logo and encouraged current employees to add their pronouns to their email signature and status on Slack. New employees receive information about #BendTheBank as part of their Induction Day. “I’ve found some good friends through the Slack channel,“ says Sarah. “What I really like is that you have a shared experience and it makes for a less formal introduction.“
The badges are especially helpful for those working in the office as Customer Service agents, who often meet new colleagues every week. “When you have a small team that you interact with, these chats happen naturally,“ says Steve, who works in Customer Service. “But sometimes it’s difficult to communicate, especially if you have shifts and meet new colleagues all the time. The t-shirts and the icons on Slack were good ways of notifying people.“