We caught up with Jess to talk about her roles as Co-Chair of LCP’s LGBT+ Network. Jess discusses the LGBT+ Network’s impact, the importance of representation in the workplace and the effect of eliminating unconscious bias in recruitment.
Tell us about yourself
I work in the pensions actuarial team. Although I started here as a graduate, I actually joined as an intern. I went to Warwick University and LCP ran lots of events, such as informal drinks, where I could get to know them and chat with them. It was really great to include this on my application, as I actually knew people’s names and I could draw on my conversations with them. So, I think that’s what helped my application get put forward for an interview for the internship.
I’m now a qualified actuary – I’ve been qualified for over a year. My day job involves advising mostly trustees on their pension schemes, I don’t actually do a lot of corporate work. I advise the Trustees on pension scheme liabilities and how best to manage the risk. I do lots of other roles at LCP that are categorised as non-chargeable. I organise graduate training within LCP and I also sit on the recruitment team, so I’ve done a lot of CV sifting and taking people out for lunch post-interviews. I’m currently getting trained to interview candidates – which I’m looking forward to. I’m also a deputy team leader and co-chair of the LGBT+ network.
All of these roles, outside my position as an actuary, are optional but I really enjoy them. I think it’s nice to get that variety, rather than focusing on core actuarial work all the time. All of my different roles complement each other. Our work is quite fast-paced and whilst it’s usually easy to fit our work into a 9-5 day, there are a few late nights and high-pressure projects. So, having that variety of roles makes my job more manageable.
How was LCP’s LGBT+ Network formed and how did you get involved?
The network was set up three years ago, by the three co-chairs – with the goal of improving inclusivity for our LGBT+ employees. The Network had a kick-off event, which followed by a yammer post about Stonewall and the Stonewall index – which is a tool to benchmark your progress on LGBT+ inclusion against other firms. They published the results from their first Stonewall index submission and I was just interested to understand our results further. I got chatting to one of the co-chairs, and they mentioned that I was clearly quite passionate about this topic, so that it would good for me to join the network and help out.
I started off as a committee member but then took on extra responsibilities, such as helping to make recruitment more inclusive. My role has developed each year, as more tasks have appeared.
What has the LGBT+ Network achieved?
The pensions industry has been historically dominated by straight white men, as such we have worked hard with the other LCP D&I networks to improve diversity and inclusivity, helping LGBT+ colleagues to feel they fit in and as such enabling them to perform to the best of their ability.
One of the first things we did was review all of our policies. Now, every single policy we have is completely inclusive. All of them have gender neutral language and they don’t assume the gender of your partner. It’s a small step but it makes a difference when you’re reading it and are LGBT+. They’ve also been made more inclusive for people in different circumstances, trying to make sure that everybody feels represented by these policies.
Another key part of our work has been in educating colleagues regarding LGBT+ matters and the specific challenges that LGBT+ colleagues often face. We are trying to make people more aware of the issues and enabling discussions around these issues in a safe space. Although people might feel uncomfortable for those couple of minutes, you have done a lot to help improve someone else’s experience and the result is that colleagues feel more comfortable addressing issues such as unconscious bias, discrimination, etc.
We’ve also done lots of events from socials to educational sessions. We’ve been putting on things like TEDtalk lunches, where we watch a TEDTalk and discuss afterwards, and fundraisers that get people into the room to talk about LGBT+ issues and share resources. We’ve also put together lots of two-three-minute videos, to explain basic terms and answer questions that people have submitted. It’s all worked really well – especially having that big focus on educating people. Most people at LCP have engaged with this and it is helping to improve the inclusive feel of our culture.
We also recognise the importance of inclusivity to our clients, indeed many of our day-to-day contacts will be from the LGBT+ community. As such, the Network has also been responsible for putting on hugely successful LGBT+ external events for clients and prospects.
Other initiatives have included encouraging all LCP Employees to include personal pronoun preferences on email signoffs, to aid inclusion for trans and non-binary colleagues and contacts.
What impact has the LGBT+ Network had on the recruitment process?
Whilst we do have certain grade requirements for our graduate roles, by the time we get to interview stage a large part of the focus is on what you’re like as a person and whether you have the skills to be a good consultant.
We recognise that candidates with an LGBT+ background (or indeed other minorities) may be disadvantaged by aspects of a typical recruitment process – particularly given the historic lack of diversity in the industry.
As such, a key focus of our involvement (along with the other D&I networks) has been to ensure diversity across the recruitment team – including both the application reviewers and those on interview panels. This has two key benefits:
- It can help to limit the impact of unconscious and/or conscious biases of those involved in the recruitment process, particularly at the interview stage – where a lack of diversity on the panel may result in the potential rating down of candidates who do not appear or think like them.
- Interviewees can better illustrate their potential if they feel comfortable that they fit in – something which is more likely if they see a diverse interview panel.
We have also helped drive change to the process for sifting the applications. Example include ensuring that in the initial stages applications are name-blind, gender-blind and University blind – which we hope will help increase the diversity of candidates being given interviews and ultimately graduate positions.
However, we recognise that biases may still exist, so working with other networks within our overall D&I network, we have helped implement monitoring, in terms of the firm and the employee’s diversity characteristics, including now collecting data on those that are applying. Once we’ve collected all of this data, we are able to analyse it to make sure that the pool of people applying represent those we have in the firm already and the wider diversity objectives of the firm. If there’s a difference, then we can review our recruitment process to figure out where people are dropping off in the recruitment process and whether our recruitment process needs to change to remove any further potential biases.