Barclays’ Spectrum network focuses on supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people within Barclays and is open to all employees who are interested in the LGBT community.
One strand of Spectrum’s work is to coordinate allies of the LGBT community in challenging homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and to educate others on the importance of equality.
We asked two Barclays employees, Andrew Green and Cassie Canham, why they got involved in Spectrum.
When and why did you get involved with the Barclays Spectrum network?
Cassie: I got involved with the network in the summer of 2014, a couple of months after joining Barclays. The recruitment push for the Spectrum Allies programme really spurred me on to join what is an amazing and important network. As soon as I joined I knew I wanted to be involved properly, rather than as a bystander. I was invited to join monthly steering meetings and I volunteered to organise the Spectrum entry for London Pride 2015. It was then that I really saw the benefit and got fully involved. I met so many lovely people whilst organising Pride, and made lots of new friends, and it really has been some of the most enjoyable parts of my time at Barclays.
Andrew: Indirectly, I have known about and have been going to Spectrum events for nearly 10 years as my husband already worked at Barclays. On joining Barclays in 2013, I became a member and started to go to events as a colleague. During 2014, I became involved with the London/South-east Forum meetings and volunteered my time to help build the network. I am proud to be associated with a company that embraces diversity and inclusion and allows employees to be themselves.
Why did you become a Spectrum ally?
Cassie: I was encouraged to join through the recruitment push for the Allies programme. Being an ally really resonated with me, as I feel it is so important for people to be themselves without any judgement or fear, so the LGBT agenda really chimed with this belief.
Tell us a bit about how you met?
Cassie: After I volunteered to organise Pride for Spectrum in late 2014, I asked for a partner to help me, and Andrew volunteered. It was challenging as neither of us had done it before, but we complemented each other perfectly and picked up the slack when the other was too busy.
Andrew: To be honest, I was a bit dubious when I was told that an ally wanted to help organise Pride in London. However, having then met Cassie and worked with her on last year’s Pride in London parade, I couldn’t have been happier. It demonstrates the power of the network and how it can bring people together. Utilising our background knowledge and experience from our everyday roles, I did feel sorry at times for the rest of the Barclays Pride in London project team having two bossy project managers working on it!
Has being part of the Spectrum Allies programme impacted you personally?
Cassie: Yes, most definitely. It helped me to settle into Barclays when I was new and introduced me to lovely people, many of whom I now call friends. It gave me something really great to do for the Citizenship agenda, something more substantial than anything else I could see on offer. It has also opened many doors for me in terms of the opportunities I have had. I have met many senior people at Barclays and have been invited to special events as a result of my involvement.
Andrew: It has brought another dimension to our talks. Being LGBT you can rely on your own experiences, but until you talk through points and gather all viewpoints you can’t come to a balanced conclusion. It has also given the network a new energy. I can’t think of a better show of inclusion than an ally member organising Pride in London.
What progress and changes have you seen happen within Spectrum?
Cassie: It is clear to see there is strong commitment to the network and the events it undertakes from both its members and senior leaders. It’s really inspiring to see.
Andrew: The network fundamentally is about employees being there to support one another and channelling LGBT awareness within the organisation. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is the outreach we are now doing. We are proud of what Barclays stands for and we are promoting that internally via the Spectrum Allies programme, but also externally through our relationships with customers and clients.
Why do you think the Spectrum network is important for Barclays?
Cassie: The Spectrum network is important for Barclays as it allows LGBT employees to feel they can be themselves at work and provides the network with the tools it needs to raise awareness of the LGBT agenda. However, it is not just employees that benefit from the network - many studies have shown that encouraging diversity in the workplace has great benefits on productivity and creativity.
Andrew: I believe the network is a two-way partnership. It allows employees to be themselves in the knowledge that they have a supportive employer, but also gives the edge for Barclays to differentiate themselves from their competitors. For me personally, I still struggle being ‘out at work’. On joining Barclays, I started to lead two lives again, the gay one and the 'no comment' one to colleagues. It’s amazing the stories you have to dream up to stay gender neutral. Although it is always a personal choice, Barclays gave me the courage to be myself and come out (again!) to colleagues.