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Friends at the end of the rainbow

Philip Cooper decided to team up with colleagues when he felt he missed an LGBTQ+ network at Danske Bank. He found a surprising number of allies – and friends – along the way.  

When Philip moved to Denmark in 2019 to work at Danske Bank, he was all alone. How to make friends? Philip decided to reach out to Danske Bank’s LGBTQ+ network to see if there were any social activities he could join. But he couldn’t find any LGBTQ+ network at Danske Bank in Denmark at that time! The closest one was in Northern Ireland … 

"I was really surprised. But I truly thought there was a need for such a network and decided to do something about it."

I was really surprised. But I truly thought there was a need for such a network and decided to do something about it.

Philip

Philip had come out as gay late in life, only one year before he moved to Denmark. 

“I had never been out as gay in any other jobsand I had never been active in promoting an LGBTQcommunity. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a go!

Let’s do it

Philip got in touch with 5 people from different parts of the bank in Denmark who were keen on the idea. Together they decided: Lets launch an LGBTQ+ network at Danske Bank. HR supported the idea, and Danske Bank’s Rainbow Network really took off. 

It wasn’t just HR who lent support, however. The Executive Leadership Team and other parts of top management have also been really good advocates doing videos, participating in the Pride Run and so on. By coincidence, we founded the network at the same time as the bank was promoting its Diversity and Inclusion agenda, and our efforts really struck a chord!” Philip says. 

  

From 5 to 600 members

What started out as a meeting with 5 people, is now, three years later, more like a broad movement, with 600 members of the network that includes both LGBTQ+ employees and allies. The bank has changed, too, over the past few years.

When I started, I felt like we were on the back foot, now we're on the front foot and have even been giving advice to other organisations

Philip 


“Danske
 Bank has become very active. When I started, I felt like we were on the back foot, now we’re on the front foot and have even been giving advice to other organisations,” Philip says with pride. 

In 2021, the bank sponsored World Pride and the internal support was massive. Just huge! Loads of people now use the rainbow lanyards. Even on the trading floor, which is a pretty conservative environment, there are rainbow flags.”

 

Initiatives at Danske Bank stretch far beyondPride Week: 

Philip mentions that Danske Bank now has maternity and paternity leave for same-sex couples, a more diverse photo library and a transgender policy, which is an official instruction on our approach to employees or customers who change gender. In 2020, the Danske Bank group also joined the Stonewall Global Diversity Champion programme.  

 

Making friends along on the way
The lady from the relocation company warned me that meeting people could be difficult. But I’ve met loads of people through the community, both gay and allies. I have friends now who I probably would never have met at the bank otherwise. So the network has definitely helped me build a social network – and a sense of pride. 

What difference does a network make? “It means support and acceptance. Knowing that you are not the only one, you are not alone.If you have a problem, you can reach out to us,says Philip.



Blue book

  • Head of Operational Risk, Danske Bank Corporates and Institutions at Danske Bank
  • Co-founder of Danske Bank’s rainbow network: 
  • Supporting staff who identify as LGBTQ
  • Supporting leaders with LGBTQ advice
  • Educating 
  • Influencing Danske Bank policy primarily from an LGBTQ perspective, but because of his experience in Uk, influencing activities in some of the other diversity pillars
  • Ensuring Danske Bank is active in the community including supporting Pride in a number of countries)
  • Supporting other countries with setting up of local LGBTQ Networks
  • Moved to Denmark in 2019
  • Before that, Philip worked for 22 years in the British financial sector in various management positions, such as Head of Operational Risk and Conduct Risk at ClearBank and Operational Risk Directorat RBS.He has also worked at Barclays and the Spanish bank Santander. 

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