Inspirational Profile: Pips Bunce | Director, Credit Suisse

Pips Bunce

Mx Pips Bunce is a Director at Credit Suisse and has been working in the IT industry for over 25 years across range of different sectors.

She has worked for a variety of firms including Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, UBS, British Telecom and the Bank of England.

Pips is recognised as a leader and influencer in many fields of Diversity and Inclusion and through her work, has been recognised through several  prestigious awards including the Financial Times & HERoes Female champions of Women in Business, the FT & OUTStanding LGBT executive leader and the British LGBT Awards.

She is a visible and vocal advocate for many forms of equality including gender identity, gender parity and gender equality. Pips frequently presents at a range of large events and conferences such as the Women of The Square Mile, Diversity in Technology as well as presenting at venues ranging from other corporates through to in the houses of parliament.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I identify as gender-fluid and non-binary and so decide how I choose to express on a given day regarding my gender expression. Being non-binary, I do not identify as either the binary gender of male or female. With over 12 percent of all millennials now identifying as either Trans*, gender fluid or non-binary, I am pleased that more people are now feeling empowered to be authentic in how they identify.

I have multiple roles at Credit Suisse and whilst they are very different jobs, the importance of culture and the significance of diversity and inclusion is key across all. I am a Director and head of Global Markets Core Engineering Strategic Programs which involves me driving many critical IT initiatives within the firm whilst heading a global team.

I am also the co-lead of our LGBT & Ally program which helps foster an open and inclusive work environment for all and engaging our thousands of LGBT Allies. I am also a proud member of many of our gender focused networks including our EMEA Women’s Network, our IT Women’s Council (where am a proud champion of Women in IT) and our BAME network.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never had a long term plan for my career however have always loved working in the field of technology/architecture and always loved the aspect of working in an environment that is very challenging. I have always been committed to my career  and a hard worker, I even managed to obtain my first class BSC with honours degree whist also working full time at British Telecom research which  was an amazing start to my career. I’m so very proud of my son too who is following in my foot steps and has now gone down the same route.

Having been married to my wife for over 23 years and with  21 and 18 year old children, I am fortunate to have a loving and supportive family who I know have been instrumental in helping me build my career. Whilst I am proud to have reached the level I am, the saying that always resonates with me is ‘it’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice’. To me, this is a key difference between a manager and a true leader – to earn your teams real respect, you need to respect and value them, be there for your team, help them grow and be authentic in who you are.

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 programs such as the 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, people re-joining the workforce after a career break, someone breaking though the single, double or triple glass ceiling or growing our future pipeline of diverse 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.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is an amazing tool and I have really seen the benefits first hand that both sides of this relationship provide. From a mentee perspective, I have been a mentee from people outside of the firm who I have learned much from. I have found that understanding the perspective of someone from a different sector or work culture to your own will really make you step back and re-evaluate how you have been looking at given challenges or how you plan to progress your career.

On the other side of the equation, I am also honoured to be a mentee to two very senior folk here at Credit Suisse as part of our reverse mentoring scheme .

One of these is Nicola, an amazing lady whom I have so much admiration and respect for who is amongst many other key roles, is our global head of group operations. My other mentee David is again someone I find a real inspiration and who is our Credit Suisse group CEO and UK CEO. Having such inspirational senior leaders be so enthusiastic and engaged in many of our Diversity Initiatives is amazing and really does reflect on how seriously the senior members and board of our firm take all forms of Diversity.

As part of this work, I have also seen the amazing impact from having such people be engaged in our initiatives. As a result of this I often highlight to them both the real significance and impact their involvement. Being a senior culture carrier of a large global  firm is a big responsibility and when you see them doing such a great job and heling drive the cultural shifts we are aiming to make, it makes you proud to partner with them and work for a firm who get this.

Changing culture a collective team effort and requires many groups to be involved – we are lucky to have an amazing D&I team, a great branding team, a great corporate communications team, a fantastic HR team, a great legal team and a great set of senior leaders and engaged allies – all of these play a pivotal role in the changes we are making to ensure we are a fully inclusive and diverse firm.

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

To me personally, the biggest challenge I faced was when I decided that I had to come out in the workplace and be authentic in my true identity as non-binary and gender-fluid. I had always been open and out to my family, friends and loved ones however had never embraced my true self in the workplace. It was many years ago when I made the decision that it was silly to be living authentically in the majority of my life but not be authentic at work and so decided to come out in the corporate workplace.

This was a real mixture of emotions and took a lot of courage however I can honestly say, I was and continue to be touched at how amazing, sincere, compassionate and supportive everyone are. It’s amazing when your work and colleagues are so embracing for diversity and I have been amazed at the positive impact being truly authentic has had on my own personal abilities, confidence, commitment, engagement  and happiness.

Whilst being the first to come out in such an environment as gender fluid was hard, I am humbled to know that I have helped many others follow the same route and embrace their true identity as a result of seeing what a positive impact authenticity can have.

What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?

I would love to see all firms embrace every single form of diversity in a holistic fashion and ensure that no type of diversity is excluded from the party. It’s vital that firms do not focus solely on a single form of diversity as to do so could be catastrophic. Having made good progress on so many fronts, it is important to ensure that firms do not take their foot off the gas pedal in making such positive progress but ensure this is in a holistic and intersectional fashion.

Addressing the various forms of diversity related challenges is not a tick box where you can invest for one year alone for one type of diversity and assume you have tackled the challenges faced. Investment and progress is a long term investment as improving culture is a marathon and not a sprint.

Given the platform that the banking and finance industry has, this should be used as a showcase for how firms should be embracing all forms of diversity so that other less progressed firms or SME’s, can leverage the good work done by the finance industry firms.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

I would love to fast forward five years and see the real impact of many of our gender focused initiatives and hopefully see an equal pipeline of amazing female entering the workplace across all sectors. I do much work with school children and am pleased to see that attitudes are changing across many forms of diversity and that stereotypes are gradually being broken down to help build our female representation across STEM subjects that are so badly needed and are underrepresented.

I remember when my daughter was young,  how she was told by her primary school teacher that football is not for girls and that she should not be playing it. I was horrified by such a sexist and stereotypical comments and we clearly addressed this attitude with the school as its sad to see the impact of such old fashioned views can have on our fresh pipeline of amazing new talent. Thankfully this never held our daughter back and we are now so proud of her in her role as team lead in a major retail firm.

Equally, I do much work with young females (and children that identify as female) as part of the National Trans Youth Network and sadly still see the challenges being faced by such individuals. It is nice however to see the comfort they take form knowing that work places such as Credit Suisse are inclusive to all and that despite what challenges they may be facing right now, things can and will be better when these young children reach the corporate workplace and that all are accepted for who they are.

When we still have statistics where over 21,000 young adults are attempting suicide in the UK each and every year because they are being bullied for being LGBTQI, this is not acceptable and needs to change – if I could change one thing, I would eradicate all forms of prejudice and discrimination and ensure that all workplaces build a culture where all forms of diversity are equally celebrated and included.

How did you start the discussion of gender fluidity in a corporate world?

Having been married for over 23 years and with two children who are now 21 and 18, I’ve always been open and out about my gender identity to my family, friends, wife and children. It was however only a few years ago that I choose to come out as gender fluid and non-binary in the corporate workplace. Thankfully Credit Suisse are a very inclusive employer and so CS 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 instead about gender expression – I really do not know how I will feel like expressing until I wake on a given day.

Whilst CS 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 , I did always feel supported in embracing my true identity in the corporate workplace and have been touched by how amazing supportive people have been.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Whilst I am hugely proud of my career trajectory and have many plans for the future, the biggest achievement I am most proud of to-date (other than my lovely family) is the cultural change we are making as a result of our Diversity and network initiatives. I carry out so much work both across Credit Suisse and other firms, I take so much gratification from the impact this work has – knowing that you are improving the culture in society, knowing that you are helping others for me, fills me with an immense sense of warmth and wellbeing.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I think my biggest challenge is scaling up my time to achieve all the things I want to do. I have so many initiatives on the go and want to make such an impact, I sometimes struggle to find the time to do all that I need to and so think my biggest challenge will be to pick what I need to focus on very carefully, execute on my selected items to the best of my abilities and be proud of the impact this work has.

As for what I hope to achieve in the future, I continually strive for a more inclusive workplace and society where prejudice, discrimination,  bias, be it conscious or unconscious are fully removed and are a thing of the past.

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