At Allica Bank, we want to celebrate how diversity and inclusivity make us stronger. This Pride month, we’re launching several initiatives to celebrate LGBTQA+ causes and promote diversity and inclusivity in our workplace.
This includes a fundraiser for the akt (Albert Kennedy Trust), which supports young LGBTQ+ people in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment.
We’ll also be sharing a series of posts from the Allica Bank team, which discuss their own experiences and reflect what diversity and inclusion mean to them. The first of these, from our digital marketing manager Maciej Zalewski, is below.
This June marks my first Pride Month at Allica Bank, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Pride Month was introduced initially to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969. They sparked a wave of progressive action across the globe, such as the formation of gay rights groups and, ultimately, affecting real legislative change. Pride Month remembers those who took part and has had an amazing impact by promoting equality and recognising the contributions of the LGBTQA+ community around the world.
As a gay man growing up in a conservative community in Poland, these causes are especially close to my heart. I never felt truly comfortable accepting who I was. Initiatives such as Pride were of huge significance as I learned about my identity. They helped me realise that I wasn’t alone. That I belonged.
Moving to the UK in my teens really opened my eyes. First at school in England and then university in Scotland, I was exposed to all kinds of people with different backgrounds, beliefs and identities. This was a big change to my life in Poland and made me more comfortable to be open about who I was. This continued when I left education and began my career working in creative marketing agencies in London. I felt safe and proud to be openly gay in a way I never did when living back in my more conservative home town in Poland.
Then, a few years ago, I decided I wanted to move into the financial services sector. It’s an industry I had always been keen to go into. But I had built up a number of preconceptions about it and was concerned about leaving behind the creative working environment I felt lucky to have found. Those feelings of unease started to emerge once again. I was worried that, if I did move, I’d have to change who I was at work and be restricted in how I could express myself.
On making the change, though, I have been amazed, and relieved, that the preconceptions I had couldn’t have been more wrong. I've not only felt welcome, but a genuine interest and openness in who I am. Since first walking in for my interview with Allica Bank, for example, I’ve been encouraged to express my opinions and to talk directly about the need for a conversation about diversity.
This was an overwhelmingly pleasant surprise. And one I am extremely grateful for. But there is always more that can be done. Diversity and inclusion aren’t problems that can be solved. They must be constantly worked on every day by educating people and challenging the accepted norms. This is what Pride is all about.
As a growing business, Allica Bank has a great opportunity to instil diversity and inclusion of all kinds into the very core of our working environment and growth journey. I’m incredibly proud to be championing this myself at Allica.
An inclusive workplace with a diverse range of experiences, ages, races, cultures and sexualities can bring a huge number of benefits. There will be a much wider pool of talent to source from. People with different perspectives can find different ways to approach a challenge, inspiring innovation and creativity. While happier employees make for a more productive workforce. In fact, one piece of research by the Boston Consulting Group that surveyed companies across the globe revealed that businesses with more diverse management teams tend to have higher revenue.
Most importantly, though, everybody should feel like they can bring their full selves into their work. When in the office, no one should have to hide the person that they are after they log off, or feel compelled to act in a certain way.
This isn’t something that happens on its own, which is exactly why Pride Month is so important to us. By celebrating Pride, it is just one way that we can champion diversity and inclusion across the business.
This June, we’re raising money for the Albert Kennedy Trust. A great cause that supports young LGBTQ+ people in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness, or living in a hostile environment. The money raised will help find them safe homes or employment, and a welcoming environment that appreciates them for who they are.
We’ll also be sharing posts on our social media feeds in which Allica Bank employees will be celebrating what diversity and inclusivity mean to them. There’ll be a bunch of activity internally, too, to encourage wider conversations around the topics, both inside and outside of the workplace.
While we are still a relatively young business, our size means we can instil these values at the heart of our business as we grow. A proactively diverse and inclusive working environment will massively enrich not just the lives of people like myself, but the whole bank. And I, for one, am incredibly excited to help shape it.