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How RBS is driving LGBTI inclusiveness

How RBS is driving LGBTI inclusiveness

a close up of a toddler in an orange t-shirt with a RBS float and rainbow flags passing in by in the background

Global banking group, RBS, sees ‘positive and progressive’ results in its support of LGBTI workforce, says its global head of Inclusion, Marjorie Strachan

‘We are the only Financial Services organisation to have spent the last 10 years within Stonewall workplace equality index,’ Strachan says.

‘This is reaffirmation of our consistency in being a great place for LGBTI people to work and our commitment to being a bank that supports our  LGBTI community.’

In those 10 years we’ve been on quite a journey. Key to understanding how people feel about working within the bank is our staff sentiment analysis, which we undertake twice a year.

In 2005 for the first time we sought to discover how many LGB people we had in our organization. We wanted to truly understand their experience at work and how it matched up with the rest of the organisation.

This told us that our LGBTI community was considerably less engaged than the rest of our staff. So we’ve worked tirelessly to address that imbalance.

As of 2018, engagement scores for gay men are now in line with bank averages. In the last three years lesbians have gone from nine points below bank averages to above six.

Our analysis also tells us that that our workforce is reflective of the UK population. Our disclosure rate of LGBTI colleagues is in line with Office of National Statistics.

The Rainbow Network

A key part of driving our internal agenda is our employee led group – The Rainbow Network. This has grown to around 1,600 members since its inception in November 2005.

This year they’ll take part in 18 Prides worldwide (a record for the bank) supporting the established Prides the length of Great Britain as well as our global hubs in Belfast, Warsaw and Delhi. In those hubs we are at the forefront of driving the LGBTI agenda, whilst remaining considerate of local differences.

They also support us by informing our plans, providing real life experiences that are invaluable.

a group of people standing outside holding rainbow flags
RBS staff and allied at New Delhi Pride | Photo: Supplied

Critical role of allies

We recently re-invigorated our LGBTI allies programme within the organisation. This is critical to driving forward the LGBTI agenda at RBS.

We believe that, to be a true ally, you need to do more than wear a lanyard or badge. The aim is to create a vocal, knowledgeable and collaborative group of colleagues who take an active role in supporting the LGBTI agenda.

They recognize the challenges our LGBTI colleagues and customers face every day, and use their influence and network to promote inclusion. They show others how to combat homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in a visible way. Our membership has grown to around 650 individuals since its launch two years ago.

To help our LGBTI colleagues to reach their full potential we offer them mentoring opportunities through external organisations. They are matched with LGBTI individuals or allies worldwide with extensive mentoring experience.  


Importantly we are also determined to make a difference for our customers as well as our colleagues. Our ambition is to be the number one bank for customer service, trust and advocacy. To become that bank we need to continue to provide inclusive banking services to our customers and to serve them well, through branches, on the telephone and digital banking.

We want to disrupt and ensure that we review the important areas of banking like whether we need gender questions, flexibility to change name and/or title and ensure areas such as voice recognition technology doesn’t unintentionally exclude customers where their voice may not match the profile while keeping our customers safe and secure.

In the past three years the bank has examined what barriers are faced by the LGBTI community through complaints and feedback received on social media and via proactively seeking customer insight.  

As a result we introduced support for frontline staff to better understand the needs of transgender and non-binary people. We also introduced the Mx title for personal customers and updated the process for when existing personal customers can update their gender on bank records, removing the requirement for a GRC (Gender Recognition Certificate).

Additionally, we updated the process for existing customers who wish to register or re-register for online banking, removing the gender question. This change covered all customer facing brands.

We continue to work to improve our customer journeys through providing better support for customers to change their name, title and gender across all our systems. We have also improved our voice recognition process and provide flexible banking for our gender fluid customers.

In 2018, the bank responded to the Scottish Government consultation regarding Gender Equality Act 2004. We agreed with the proposition that Scotland should adopt a self-declaration system for legal gender recognition; updating the Gender Recognition Act to reflect the needs and rights of trans and non-binary people in today’s society would help safeguard the physical, mental and emotional well being of trans people, along with their continued journey towards social and legal equality.


Training forms a key part of how we approach inclusion as a whole. We regularly refresh our mandatory training modules to support colleagues in understanding issues that the LGBTI community face, both inside and out of work.

In 2015 we began providing specific, tailored support to colleagues who decide to transition within the workplace. We’ve published guidance to both line managers and employees on all aspects of the employee lifecycle.

We’ve got numerous examples of colleagues who have experienced gender dysphoria while working at RBS.

One particular colleague, Si, who works in one of our branches said: ‘My colleagues and managers have been amazing and have supported me all the way. I won’t lie and say it’s been the same from all customers, but fortunately it is only a small number who have made negative comments’.

Inclusion at heart of human resources

Inclusion plays a major role in reviewing our human resources policies. We are overt within our policies that we support the rights of our LGBTI colleagues to be themselves at work, irrespective of where they are based.

In 2015 we updated our Global Dignity at Work policy, covering 27 countries, to be explicit that the bank does not tolerate prejudice on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Supporting Digital Pride

In 2016 we participated in Digital Pride for the first time. We used the event to bring the ‘Outside In’ and inform our strategy and long term plans for our agenda. We continue to be involved in Digital Pride. This year we’re using it to demonstrate our global connectivity and inform our global strategy for our offices in India and Poland.

Moreover, earlier this year we signed up to the United Nations standard for global business to tackle LGBTI discrimination.

Drawing on good practice from around the world, the standards developed by the UN Human Rights Office set out actions companies can take to protect the rights of LGBTI individuals.

These include eliminating unfair treatment in the workplace; making sure business operations do not contribute to discrimination against customers, suppliers or members of the public; and working with business partners to address discriminatory practices up and down the supply chain.

Whilst we are proud of the work undertaken to date, we know our evolving workforce and customers require us to remain innovative, disruptive and progressive.’