August 26, 2016

Robert McClenaghan-Harrop: On if the LGBTQA community in Manchester still needs Pride

Robert McClenaghan Harrop

Robert McClenaghan-Harrop


This weekend the city of Manchester in the UK celebrates Pride. We asked Robert McClenaghan-Harrop, co-chair of the Manchester chapter of PRISM, our employee resource group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning employees and their allies (LGBTQA), to share what Pride means to him and what he thinks of LGBTQA diversity and inclusion in financial services.

I have been attending Manchester’s Pride festival for many years and each year around this time I hear the same question being asked – with more LGBTQA visibility than ever before, equal marriage in many countries, and continued improvement in LGBTQA rights: is there really a need to celebrate Pride?

In my opinion, unequivocally yes. Resistance to acceptance is still evident. Much of the mountain is still left to climb and continuing the demand for safety, acceptance, and equality is an absolute must.

That being said, I think the future is bright for LGBTQA people. Here in financial services, I have been impressed by the attitudes of many organisations in their desire to drive for diversity in business and society; creating an inclusive culture and environment where anyone can succeed.

Perceptions of banks as ‘old-school’, slow to evolve their approach to diversity and inclusion, are no longer representative of this industry. Financial services is one of the most progressive sectors when it comes to diversity and inclusion. A quick glance at OUTstanding’s top 100 LGBT Senior Executives’ list, as published in the Financial Times, and you can see just how many financial institutions have been recognised for their pioneering efforts in leading organisations to create inclusive workplaces.

As for the Pride festival, it is a way of collectively celebrating society’s progress to date while acknowledging how much further we must go. Pride events also create a safe space to meet new people within the community and have fun. Because Pride acts to support and further drive LGBTQA community rights, each year BNY Mellon supports it through a range of fundraising and volunteering.

This sees BNY Mellon employees work closely with a range of LGBTQA organisations. For example, here in Manchester we regularly partner Diversity Role Models – a charity which seeks to prevent homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools; Albert Kennedy Trust – a charity working with young LGBT+ people facing homelessness or violence because of their sexuality; and George House Trust – a support charity for those living with HIV/AIDS in the North West.

And in 2015, our Manchester office was recognised for its work with George House Trust on a digital version of the World AIDS Quilt.

BNY Mellon commits to being an ally of the LGBTQA community in all of our countries of operation; not only by donating money and incentivising volunteering, but by being a publically inclusive workplace. For me, I see this is a major strength of BNY Mellon. Our employees are rewarded because of merit: irrespective of gender, race, or sexual orientation.  

As to whether Manchester still needs Pride? I think even when we see fully inclusive equality for the LGBTQA community there will still be a place for Pride. Pride is a celebration of our diverse society.

And as for me, Pride will always be the first place I felt truly comfortable as a gay man. Pride is where I met my husband. And Pride is where I will be celebrating with friends, colleagues and family this weekend the importance and strengths of Manchester’s diverse community.

To learn more about this year’s festival, you can follow @ManchesterPride on Twitter.