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Bernard Looney on Transgender Awareness Week

To mark the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week, trans activist, actor and filmmaker Jake Graf sat down with Bernard Looney to discuss BP’s diversity and inclusion initiatives


For me, it’s very, very simple. People are treated with respect, people should absolutely feel safe – we shouldn’t even have to question that. And, if ever we find people who are not supportive or aligned with that agenda, then they don’t belong in our company. -Bernard Looney,chief executive, Upstream

Jake Graf is an influential voice in the transgender community, speaking internationally on trans issues. In 2015, he was a panellist at the first trans specific event at The White House and, the following year, was invited to present at Speaker’s House, Westminster. In July 2017, his short film about legislative change was launched in the Houses of Parliament.

Jake and his wife, Hannah – one of the highest-ranking transgender soldiers in the British Army – were named ’The UK’s most influential LGBT Power Couple’ by The Guardian newspaper. 

Upstream chief executive Bernard Looney is set to take over as BP CEO in February 2020. He is a vocal supporter of diversity and inclusion and is the first executive straight ally in BP Pride – a global employee group that supports all BP staff on LGBT+ issues in the workplace. 

“I hate to see people excluded on any grounds – gender, ethnicity, sexuality,” Looney said at November 2019’s BP senior leaders meeting. “I’m about meritocracy, objective meritocracy. Assess people on the basis of experience and capability. Words are easy, actions are what count.”

Looney has worked with BP Pride’s Bobbi Pickard (recent winner of OUTstanding’s LGBT+ Future Leader role model award) on her Trans in the City initiative – a network that has brought more than 55 organizations together for Transgender Day of Remembrance. “I think we started out with five [organizations],” Looney recalls. “It’s extraordinary what’s been accomplished in 18 months.” Learn more about Trans in the City @twitter and Facebook

Jake and Hanna Graf will be appearing at the event along with some of the UK’s leading trans role models, including Charlie Martin, Kellie Maloney, Leng Montgomery, Emma Cusdin, Christina Riley, Pippa Bunce, Nour Shaker Fayad and many others. 

For Bernard Looney, respect and inclusion is deep in his DNA. Speaking at a BP Pride Allies event, he said: “One of the things my mother taught me at an early age is that you should treat others as you would like to be treated. To me, that’s one of the most basic needs of any human being and it should and does transcend gender, ethnicity, religion and sexuality… so, for me, it starts with respect.”

Looney’s commitment to an inclusive workplace is something that he knows is good for the business as a whole. “The only way you can really be your best at work is if you can be yourself and I don’t want people to feel that they can’t be themselves at work. I believe that diverse teams produce  better results. So, for me, it’s not about whether we’re different that matters, it’s that we make a difference.”


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