Transgender awareness – An interview with Pips Bunce
Posted by |In LGBT+ |
As part of our awareness campaign for Transgender awareness week we are delighted to have Pips Bunce share with us their personal story
Who is Pips Bunce?
Along with my role as Director and Head of Global Markets Technology Core Engineering Strategic programs at Credit Suisse, I am also co-chair of the firm’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) & Ally Program. This aims to encourage an inclusive work culture where all are encouraged to bring their whole self to work and to promote authenticity in the workplace regardless of gender identity, gender expression or sexuality.
I identify as being within the Trans umbrella set of identities and more specifically, identify as gender fluid and non-binary*. The gender fluid aspect means I express differently on different days, some days I choose to express as female whereas other days I choose to express as male – to me there are no hard and fast rules and this simply depends on how I feel on a given day.
Equally I do not subscribe to gender stereotypes so, whilst when explaining this to people, I use the term expressing as male or female. To me, labels are for cans of soup and not for people. I just chose to express how I wish to and not be defined by a binary gender label. The non-binary aspect of my identity means that I do not identify as being solely only male or just only female. We are all the same yet uniquely different and, to me, we are all a tapestry of so many different and amazing attributes. Gender is one of many, many things that are part of what defines us and my gender happens to be a spectrum.
How did you start the discussion of gender fluidity in a corporate world?
Having been married for over 23 years, and with two children, I’ve always been open and out about my gender identity to my family, friends, wife and children. It was however only in the last 5 years that I chose to come out as gender fluid and non-binary in the corporate workplace. Thankfully Credit Suisse are a very inclusive employer and so were keen to learn about this identity and champion how they can support someone who identifies in this way. For some on the Trans spectrum they wish to transition permanently, for those that are gender fluid, it is sometimes instead about gender expression.
Whilst Credit Suisse had experienced people on the Trans spectrum who wish to transition, they had not previously had anyone come out as any of the many other Trans identities such as gender fluid and/or non-binary and hence this was an educational journey for them.
As part of this partnership they have produced educational guide books, videos, policy updates and much more to support many of the other Trans identities and so this was an easy discussion to have.
Whilst it was scary being one of the first to come out (given that 12 percent of millennials identify as gender non-conforming hence include gender fluid, non-binary and trans), I have always felt supported in embracing my true identity in the corporate workplace and have been touched by how amazingly supportive people have been
Are you a visible role model?
I try and do as much work as possible to help progress LGBT+ equality and, as such, I am honored to have received recognition for this work. To me, the biggest reward is hearing from the people who have been helped by having those around them be happy and proud to be out. As per the official statistics from Stonewall, even in the UK we have over 60,000 young adults being bullied in the UK each and every year for being LGBT+ and, as a result, have over 21,000 of these attempt suicide – this is not acceptable and needs to change.
I am a strong believer that everyone should be proud of who they are, regardless of their identity and so this recognition and these awards mean a lot to me.
I was honored to be awarded to be awarded 34th position in the prestigious 2018 OutStanding and Financial Times Executive Leader list, featured at number 32 in the 2018 Financial Times and HERoes Females executive list and win the Inspirational LGBTQI Leader category as part of the British LGBT Awards.
As with all these awards, I share them with each and every one who I partner with to help make the positive changes we are driving. Together, only together, will we progress.
What motivates you?
I am a firm advocate of meritocracy and a strong believer in the importance of authenticity. I am hugely motived by empowering people to be truly authentic in who they are, how they choose to identify and ensuring that whatever amazing fusion of characteristics someone happens to be, that all are celebrated (and not just tolerated) irrespective of their gender, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, mental health, disability, age or any of the other characteristics that make us amazingly different yet the same.
Having had several friends over the years take their own life purely because they felt they would never be truly accepted in the workplace for how they choose to identify, it’s so fulfilling for me to see the impact of having an LGBT & Ally program and how this positively changes the culture. I genuinely feel that if such programs were in place all those years ago, those dearly departed friends would still be with us today and so such initiatives really can make the difference between life and death.
Whether it is someone coming out in the workplace as LGBT, someone re-joining the workforce after a career break, someone breaking though the single, double or triple glass ceiling or growing our future pipeline of young talent from minority groups not currently represented in the workplace, all of these achievements motivate me in knowing that people have been empowered to be authentic and succeed regardless of who they are
It’s been proven time and time again that diverse firms far out perform those that are not and the culture and general feeling of wellbeing in such firms is always so much better. This may sound like a minor point to some but is in my view key, as Ghandi rightly said, be the change that you want to see.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to express themselves in the way you do incredibly in the corporate world?
I would encourage all to fully embrace your true authentic self as you will be amazed at the positive effect doing so can make. Ensure that you partner with your organisation as they too can benefit from the experience, making positive improvements to their understanding, policies and educational material as part of this process.
There are many charities and organisations that your organisation can engage with who will be able to provide assistance in this area and so the person or the organisation are not alone and are not the first to embrace these nuances.
Having an active LGBT & Ally program makes a huge difference in empowering people to embrace their true self as they know that they are fully supported by the organisation and their co-workers – ensuring that such a program is in place is a huge help.
Finally having role models at all levels articulating the significance and importance of LGBT inclusion is also key as this sends a clear message that, again, the firm fully embraces authenticity and that people are encouraged to be their true self.
As Oscar Wilde says, ‘be yourself as everyone else is taken!’
*An umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely. (Stonewall)