Lloyds Banking Group: The destiny of difference & diversity

By John Pinching
10 years ago difference was addressed with quiet platitudes but more recently the volume has been turned up as Lloyds Banking Group's Samantha Owo explains

Name: Samantha Owo
Role: Race Action Lead
Company: Lloyds Banking Group

Creating an inclusive environment where everyone can be themselves, reach their potential and thrive is what all companies should be striving to achieve.

Lloyds Banking Group is no different. As we’ve shifted to help Britain recover, the value of uniqueness and diversity in all its forms remains crucial to our collective success, including making the best decisions and better reflecting the customers we serve.

Diversity, equality and inclusion has long been a core part of how we work. For example, the Group became the first FTSE 100 company to set targets for gender and ethnic diversity at senior levels. Recently, we have set more ambitious aspirations, in addition to firm public statements on our anti-racist and anti-discriminatory stance.

Like with many organisations, there has been much to contemplate when it comes to inclusion, especially over the last eighteen months. Let’s jump into one area specifically. Following the murder of George Floyd and against the backdrop of the global Black Lives Matter protests and coronavirus pandemic, the Group recognised the need to improve support to Black colleagues, customers and communities. 

After a lot of conversations, listening and identifying where changes were needed internally and externally, the Race Action Plan was born. To guide us on this journey, we also created a colleague Race Advisory Panel to inform our strategic thinking, decision making and to have a continuous feedback loop. 

The Race Action Plan was launched to drive cultural change, recruitment and progression across the organisation. The plan, which is regularly reviewed, is made up of eight commitments to address the specific challenges faced by our Black community, as well as Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

These commitments ranged from increasing Black senior representation from 0.6% to at least 3% by 2025, to actively supporting Black entrepreneurs and businesses through our partnerships, all the way to developing a race education programme for all our people. 

Identifying and recognising the knowledge gaps that existed within the Group at the start was essential. It has led to the creation of a bespoke race education programme tailored for our people with the help of external experts. The programme has commenced with our senior leadership and line manager populations, who we felt had a significant part to play in furthering our inclusive culture. 

The interactive content pushes buttons, is positively proactive and at times, deeply uncomfortable. It really sets out to address the importance of awareness, allyship and action. The results have been seen through the ever-growing network of advocates who are continuing the conversations beyond training. 

We’ve continued to listen, with many colleagues telling us that they now have the confidence and tools to challenge inappropriate behaviour or language directly and, crucially, in the moment. Many have also used this greater awareness to step into the active allyship space and embed inclusive hiring principles in their teams to build a more diverse and collaborative working environment. 

There have been a lot of ‘lightbulb moments’ throughout this training programme. While this is only one element of activity in this space, the importance is that it’s evolving the culture to a point where our people feel more empowered to take action.

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