Live your truth – A conversation with Cristobal Smith on LGBTQ+ and inclusivity

At Standard Chartered, we strive to cultivate a culture of inclusivity and allyship. We believe it is essential for colleagues to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, and to know that they are supported and celebrated for who they are. This Pride Month, we want to celebrate our LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies and encourage everyone to continue to educate themselves on the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. Below we hear from Cristobal Smith, who shares what Pride Month means to him and how Standard Chartered's culture empowered him to live his truth.


Tell us about yourself?

 CS: I am Panamanian. I am a gay man, married to a wonderful man, and a proud cat and dog Dad. I enjoy travelling to new places, playing board games and reading mystery books. I love learning about breakthroughs in astronomy and am a Credit Analyst, covering TMT and FinTech supporting the west coast team.

Why did you join the SC Pride Committee?

CS: I joined because I wanted to get to know my fellow bankers who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community. I also wanted to share the joy I feel of living my truth with the rest of the Bank, so it was a great place to start.

How did the culture at Standard Chartered empower you to live your truth and bring your whole self to work?

CS: Since arriving at the Bank, I have felt accepted for who I am – I’ve never felt awkward because of who I love. People I have interacted with in the Bank genuinely don’t care about it, which in turn, makes me not think about it while at work, allowing me to relax and just be me.

What are you most excited about regarding the SC Pride Committee?

CS: I am excited that in-person events are a thing again. I am excited about the committee’s partnership with Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), which helps trans people navigate the legal system to obtain simple things, such as an updated ID with the person’s preferred name. I think it is important for us to continue supporting our trans community especially as they have come under attack in recent years.

This year’s Pride Month theme is “Strength in Solidarity.” What does Pride Month mean to you?

CS: For me, Pride Month is progress; it is visibility. I grew up in a religious household. I never knew other people like me existed. Pride Month is a way for people in the LGBTQ+ community to know that they are not alone.

This year’s Pride Month theme, “Strength in Solidarity,” reinforces that there is immense strength and power in numbers, not only within the LGBTQ+ community, but also when we can count on our allies for support, guidance, and encouragement. We are a massive and resilient community because of those numbers. That is what the theme means to me.

Why is visibility/representation important in the workplace?

CS: Visibility and representation show that a workplace considers and respects all voices, and it is not a PR stunt.

What’s something you think people can do, especially during Pride Month, to gain awareness about important issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community?

CS: Research, research, and… research! It is important to understand the grievances raised by the LGBTQ+ community and approach the topic by acknowledging your own biases. When researching, though, it is vital to question the sources. A piece of advice I was given was that if a piece of news, article, video, etc., incites an emotional response, it was likely produced to get that reaction so it may be a biased source.

What is one LGBTQ+ community misconception you would like to educate others about?

CS: There is no hidden “agenda.” We just want to live happy lives, enjoying all legal protections and having the same access to benefits everybody gets, nothing more, nothing less.

Why is it important for organisations such as Standard Chartered to show their support during Pride Month?

CS: Support for the LGBTQ+ community should extend beyond Pride Month. As a Bank with a global presence, it is essential to demonstrate support towards the community throughout the year. By doing so, we can reassure our employees that we stand with them and create a welcoming environment that could help attract talent. Companies today are vocal about supporting our community, and younger generations expect the same from us. So for the Bank to stay relevant, aligning ourselves with the changing times is crucial.

Interested in joining us?

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