6th June 2023

Sam Long, assistant risk and assurance officer at National Friendly, speaks to Health & Protection about how the financial services sector is less diverse than other industries, but is catching up a lot, plus the importance of doing the right thing internally, before saying the right thing externally.

What have been your own experiences with regard to attitudes towards LGBTQ+ communities in the sector?

I’ve worked in the financial services sector since 2016, working for a couple of different organisations and in various different roles. I found it less diverse than the travel industry, where I worked prior to this. But that’s not to say I’ve had any bad experiences.

here’s definitely a feeling of inclusivity now. For me, this is about feeling heard, when it comes to contributing ideas related to things that really matter to people and business. It’s also about feeling heard if you’ve had a negative experience and knowing that the appropriate procedures are in place.

It’s also about not experiencing any barriers; barriers that straight people would never probably experience. Such as feeling like you need to present a false version of yourself so you can fit in, and that if you do bring your whole self to work you may be overlooked for career advancement etc.

I think all of this is down to the culture of the organisation – whether its people are open and inclusive – and that needs to be role modelled from the top. It feels, in recent years especially, like there’s been a conscious effort by organisations in this sector to do this.

What is the sector doing well and where does it need to up its game?

As mentioned, I think the financial services sector has really caught up a lot on diversity and inclusion. For example, it’s the norm now to see LGBTQ+ networks in large organisations. And a conscious effort to ensure everyone has a voice.

On upping its game, I think there sometimes needs to be more focus in this sector of doing the right thing internally, before saying the right thing externally.

There’s a lot of effort on the part of some organisations to talk externally about how diverse and inclusive they are; about how they’ve perhaps done a pride march or supported an awareness month. At the same time though, we need to be cognisant that some companies – and I’m talking across sectors here – have been accused of pinkwashing.

A lot of questions are now being asked around: Are you really supporting your employees? Are you giving your people a voice? How many LGBTQ+ employees do you have in management roles?

So, I think it’s really important that companies get their own house in order first, then talk about things externally. Make sure it’s not a veneer of inclusivity, then a toxic culture underneath.

National Friendly has the opposite issue. It’s very inclusive, but we don’t talk about it enough externally.

We have people from LGBTQ+ communities in various roles and at different levels. For a small company, I think that’s really great.

Do you feel encouraged and enabled to bring your whole self to work?

Yes I do now, absolutely. But when I first started out in my career in this sector, perhaps not so. But, like I said, that’s more to do with me being reserved about my personal life to begin with. It was kind of a wait and see approach. I wanted to give myself time to feel safe to open up; to discuss things like what I’ve done at the weekend with my partner.

This kind of stuff might not seem very work related, but we all need to connect with each other on this kind of level, because it’s what helps build trust and collaboration.

In previous roles it’s taken me a few months to get there but once I have, I’ve only experienced good things in response.

Latest Insights


A friendly way to save


With the cost of everything rising, it’s becoming increasingly hard to save money either for yourself or for your loved ones. The number of people in the…

Give the gift of savings with a TESP


Are you having trouble finding the perfect gift for your child or grandchild? Or are you interested in surprising your loved ones with a gift that will bring…

Dealing with grief at Christmas 


Christmas can be a time for celebration, family get-togethers and festive traditions. But, for those going through bereavement or suffering from grief, it can be an overwhelming…

Movember and exploring the mental health challenges men over 50 often face


Did you know November is Men's Health Month? It’s a time to focus on improving men's health worldwide. On average, Men are dying 4.5 years earlier than women,…

Let’s talk financial wellbeing during Talk Money Week


Talking about money and our financial well-being can sometimes feel embarrassing, taboo, or even awkward, even though it’s a crucial part of our lives. According to the Money…

Understanding life insurance and suicide


Understanding life insurance and suicide  We recognise that suicide can be a difficult topic to talk about. More than 6,000 people die by suicide in the UK and…

Cover: PMI - Bringing Affordable Healthcare to the Masses


With the National Health Service (NHS) facing relentless demand, it's time for the private medical insurance (PMI) sector to help fill the gap. However, while long waiting lists…

IFA: Conversations with an Underwriter – Understanding the Diabetes dilemma


Following National Friendly’s discussion last month on a fresh approach to underwriting, National Friendly sat down with Jake Watts, Disability & Development Underwriter, to learn more about underwriting…

Health and Protection: Avoid a ‘veneer of inclusivity’ with a toxic culture underneath – Long


Sam Long, assistant risk and assurance officer at National Friendly, speaks to Health & Protection about how the financial services sector is less diverse than other industries, but…

Cover: Protect your biggest investment with Income Protection


When someone buys a property, it is likely the biggest purchase of their life, yet most people don't go to the appropriate lengths to protect their investment. Mortgage…

Cover: Opening the conversation on later care annuities


National Friendly explains the importance of discussing later-life care, and how later-life care annuity works. Of all the financial planning we can do perhaps the least talked about…

Cover: Industry Voice - Changing the conversation on later life care


Planning for elderly care might not be a cheery topic for an adviser's client, but it is certainly a pertinent one. In 2021-2022 there were an estimated 360,793…

Cover: Consumer Duty: What the younger generation want


Engaging the younger generation as part of Consumer Duty considerations involves engaging your own employees first, writes Georgia d’Esterre, head of marketing at National Friendly. Engaging 18 to…

Cover: The new, young face of income protection


Why does a healthy person need income protection? Employment contracts typically include a fixed number of sick days where the employee continues to get paid when they're unable…

Cover: Partner Insight - Neil Thompson - Maslow's Pyramid - The unexpected benefits of insurance


Why do people need insurance? Customers typically look to insurance products such as income protection to protect their financial security, however, there are knock-on quality-of-life benefits that often…

Mutuality and why you need to know who owns your insurance company


A mutual is a company, typically an insurer or building society, which is owned by their members, and operated for their benefit. They compete head-on with the more…

Bristol Business News: The Last Word with Oliver Jones


Each week Bristol Business News gives a prominent member of the city’s business community the last word on its weekly e-bulletin. This week Oliver Jones, Head of Sales…