The Link network moves ‘Up North’

The Link network moves ‘Up North’

The Link LGBT network is this inter-organisational network for insurance providers, banks, brokers and any professional services industry that works with financial services providers. By Lauren Peel Public Policy Consultant, Aviva – @Lauren_Peel

Anyone who works in the north of England is sure to have felt the same frustration that many of us do. An invite lands in your inbox, the event sounds great, and when you look at the address – of course it’s in London.

Now LINK, the LGBT Insurance Network, is trying to tackle that, with the development of Link Up North. This inter-organisational network is open to insurance providers, banks, brokers and any professional services industry that works with financial services providers.

The first Link Up North event in May focused on LGBT networks, and gave companies a chance to share best practice, discuss challenges and think about solutions. The expert panel, made up of Jo Alderson from Pinsent Masons, Simon Farrell-Roberts from Lloyds Banking Group and Dayna Fawkes from Aviva, talked about their own networks before opening up for Q&A from the audience.

Key takeaways for your networks include :

  • Networks need to ask “How do we make our workplace a safer, more inclusive environment for everyone?” – this should be front of mind at all times
  • When you don’t have much resource, make key moments count – pick an event in the year like IDAHOT or Pride in your city and make the most of it
  • More established networks often have to manage complacency or apathy among members, which can be done through different events, or changes to steering committees/structures
  • Some networks struggle to engage members from the B (bisexual) and T (transgender) strands of LGBT – this was discussed at length but no network has yet found a solid solution. Have you got the answer?
  • Different people can have vastly different experiences in the same business due to their managers and the teams they’re in – it’s important to make sure that areas aren’t left behind
  • Allies can play an important role in changing culture, and people tend to be very supportive. However, the first question they’re likely to ask is “What do you want me to do?” so have a plan of ‘key asks’ ready
  • About The Author

    Thomas Anderson

    Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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