This is Me

Barclays is committed to building an open culture that is disability and mental health confident. This is Me encourages colleagues to tell their personal stories, changing perceptions of disability, mental health and neurodiversity in the workplace. It builds on sharing authentic stories that capture the whole person, and we provide the support and resources to help everyone to become more disability and mental health confident.

The confidence that comes from sharing a story

When Barclays colleagues started sharing their own stories around mental health and wellbeing in 2013, they didn’t anticipate the wider impact their campaign, This is Me, would have both within Barclays and in other businesses. We have also been instrumental in partnering with other businesses like PwC and This is Me set out to challenge the stigma around mental health in the workplace. The goal was to create an environment where colleagues can comfortably speak out about their own personal experiences.

The response to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, and in Barclays, the campaign grew to encompass all disabilities. From nine colleagues sharing their story in 2013, over 250 have now shared their personal experiences. We have seen some tangible results: the number of colleagues sharing that they have a disability, or a neurodiverse or mental health condition, has increased from 3% to 11%.

This is Me continues to be a driving force for challenging the stigma around disability and mental health by encouraging colleagues to share stories that improve understanding. In 2016 Barclays’ experience of This is Me was shared with the City of London’s Lord Mayor’s Appeal, with over 400 organisations taking part with the potential to reach over 3m employees.

Barclays continues to co-chair the This is Me steering committee under the auspices of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal charity. We have also been instrumental in partnering with other businesses like PwC and United Utilities to scale up the initiative outside of London. Since 2018, This is Me North West, West Midlands, Scotland, and Yorkshire, have been launched within the UK. In Asia, This is Me India has been set up, led by Community Business.

This is Me has had an impact in Barclays offices across the world. As a result of This is Me, Barclays has launched mental health peer support groups in the US and every major Barclays centre in the UK.

Colleague stories

Shagun Pathak, Process Advisor for the Barclaycard Solutions team in Noida, India.

Shagun Pathak is determined to raise awareness of how organisations can support employees with disabilities.

Shagun Pathak

“People are so surprised that despite being a person with a disability, I’m always smiling,” laughs Shagun Pathak. “My online friends, my work friends – they all feel inspired by me.”

Although she lives with the effects of neuromuscular scoliosis – a sideways curving of the spine – Shagun sees life as a series of opportunities. She loves dancing, socialising, travelling, and reading poetry as an open-mic artist, and she has no intention of letting her disability limit her horizons.

Barclays’ Annabel Jones at Buckingham Palace after being awarded an MBE in March 2019

“It isn’t a weakness to ask for help,” says Barclays’ Annabel Jones MBE.

Annabel Jones MBE

Ten years ago, Annabel Jones was on a typical day at work with Barclays. But as she returned to her desk after lunch, she began to feel a searing pain in the back of her head and couldn’t see properly. Annabel was rushed by her line manager to a nearby GP surgery and eventually taken to hospital where doctors told her that, at the age of just 22, she’d suffered a stroke. 

Sudharsan Lakshmanan

“There are a lot of myths about people with disabilities, and one of them is that we don’t want to talk about it.”

Sudharsan Lakshmanan works as a Control Business Partner for Barclays in Chennai, India, and has a locomotor disability as a result of being infected with polio when he was six months old. 

Barclays’ Sudharsan Lakshmanan, shot on location in Chennai, India

Barclays’ Sudharsan Lakshmanan says people with disabilities need support rather than sympathy.

Michael Nartey works for Barclays Corporate and Investment Bank

Barclays’ Michael Nartey says openness is key when dealing with health issues at work.

Michael Nartey

“There’s a lot of talk about bringing your whole self to work,” says Michael Nartey, who works in securitized products distribution at Barclays Corporate and Investment Bank. “If I come to work and people know what my issues are, then most people are understanding and cut you the slack you need.”

Michael, who is based in London, has sickle cell anaemia, a condition that particularly impacts people with African or Caribbean family backgrounds. It means that his red blood cells are sickle shaped rather than round, which impacts the cells’ ability to carry oxygen around the body and can cause intense pain. 

Peter Toal

Twelve years ago, when Investment Bank Managing Director Peter Toal was seeing a therapist close to his Manhattan office, he would “sneak out, pretending I was going to lunch or had a meeting” to his other colleagues. Peter was suffering from a period of anxiety and depression which was impacting his working life, yet he didn’t feel able to share this with his colleagues.

“I was hiding it, and I think most people at the time would have done the same thing,” he says. “At the time, I thought therapists were for weak people who couldn’t handle the daily stresses of life. I now know how ignorant that view is.”

Barclays’ Peter Toal, shot on location in New York, US

“We want a culture where people feel safe in being yourself," says Barclays’ Peter Toal.