At Broadgate, part of Trinnovo Group, we have been shining a spotlight on the inspirational LGBTQIA+ leaders in our community, highlighting their thoughts on the importance of Pride, what it means to them and how we can do more to empower this community in the workplace.
We have been sharing some of their impactful answers on our social channels throughout June, but want to take the message beyond simply highlighting the importance of Pride, but also share the stories and sharing the insights of our network of inspirational leaders, enabling our community to learn how we can do more to act as allies and advocates for our LGBTQIA+ community.
Ben is currently Chief Compliance Officer at Wise (Formerly TransferWise) and joined the team in 2014 as Compliance Lead. Since he started, Wise has expanded from just 100 employees, to over 3,000 and today over 13 million customers now use Wise to move more than £6 billion a month, saving themselves £3 million a day compared to using a bank.
Prior to Wise, Ben was the Head of Compliance at Skrill, one of the first international e-money companies in the UK, which he joined in the early stages of its growth. He has nearly 20 years' experience in the Compliance and Financial Crime sector.
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride is something that has really evolved with me. When I was younger, it was a fun party and a chance to get together with friends and have a good time. But as I’ve grown, and reflected more, I’ve realised why we need to celebrate more.
There are many people that came before us that could only dream of the freedoms some of us are so fortunate to enjoy today. Many of them paid for this with their lives, and this visible celebration pays tribute to those pioneers.
It is also clear, that this fight is far from being over, even right here in the UK queer conversion therapy has only recently been banned but sadly only for some, as our trans siblings are still having to fight for this.
Pride is still an act of activism, but it doesn’t have to be just for a single month every year. People in the community that feel safe and have the ability to be visible should use their platforms all year round.
What makes you feel empowered in the workplace?
A workplace that allows me to be myself, and celebrates who I am entirely, makes me feel empowered and being part of a self driven QueerWise community, where we can share our thoughts, experiences and celebrate who we are.
As a leader I also know that I have to represent and stand up for my community. Simply being visible and open about who I am can go a long way in helping others feel empowered to do the same.
As a team, it’s our responsibility at Wise to provide a safe and relaxed space where being who we are is celebrated, and people have the confidence to be themselves. Whether it’s marching in this year’s London Pride parade, or ensuring we have thoroughly inclusive parental leave policies, having LGBTQIA+ needs in mind, and catering to them, makes me feel both empowered and recognised.
How can colleagues be allies in the workplace?
At Wise, we have strong allyship, and a great group of people who support and advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. When I speak to my colleagues, I know most queer Wisers are comfortable being themselves at work. I think that’s because of the visibility of our allies, people are public and deliberate in their support, and seeing people contribute to events and have important conversations publicly creates a really supportive environment.
Because ultimately, it’s not just about being part of the celebrations, it’s about turning up and speaking out every day when and where you need to.
What can businesses do to empower the LGBTQIA+ community?
Diversity at leadership level is crucial. Being able to see and aspire to people who look, feel or share the same experiences as you is so valuable. When I was starting out in my career, I felt like I had to conceal parts of myself in order to progress, and more visible gay role models would have been so great to see.
At Wise, we know we still have work to do here. We’re always working to make our hiring processes more diverse, as well as coaching and mentoring our best and brightest into senior roles. It’s important work and it does make a difference. You can read more about our efforts here.
Advice to your younger self?
I’ve thought a lot about this over the years, and I think my overall tip would be to care less about what people think of you. Don’t conform to what you think you should be. Express yourself in the best and truest way possible!!
At Trinnovo Group as part of our Pride campaign, we are raising money for Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), a non-profit member-driven organisation that was founded in 2006. TENI has a vision for a world where all people, regardless of gender identity or expression, enjoy full acceptance, equality, and human rights.
Please feel free to donate to the cause here.