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Barclays European CIO wants to be the Google of banks

Mark Chillingworth | July 19, 2012
"When people think of music, they think Apple, when they think search they think Google."

"Barclays is an inclusive culture, it's a great place to work but we have a lot more to do," he says. "Not all our customers are the same. After all, not all of our customers will be pale, male and stale." Watson sits on the Barclays diversity panel as co-chair.

Watson was no doubt recognised by the Guardian for his efforts to not only be open about homosexuality, but also the campaigning he does on behalf of gay and lesbian youth in the UK.

"It's important that people see that you can be a successful executive and gay," he talks of breaking down the sometimes self imposed or stereotypical glass ceilings gay men and women face of thinking they'll only get work in a typical "gay" job like a hairdresser or air steward.

"It's very important to not get boxed in. We have a lot of work to do fighting bullying and homophobia and for me it is important to give back to the community," he says.

Lord Browne, the former CEO of oil firm BP is a hero of Watson's, but the Barclays man doesn't wish to hide his homosexuality the way Browne did for the majority of his career.

"I wanted to be true to me, I want to true to my friends, my family and my work colleagues. To be an authentic leader you have to be honest with yourself and the people around you. The people I have on my team have to trust me, trust only comes from respect and you can't respect someone who isn't open and honest. After all I am only as good as my team."

Working with a number of gay rights and charity organisations Watson goes out to secondary schools every quarter to "have an open dialogue with teachers and young people". Watson visits schools in the UK to offer advice and guidance to both students and teachers in challenging homophobic bullying and celebrating diversity and difference.

"Young people come up to you to talk about bullying and they are thankful to someone who understands them, has come through the same challenges they have and then has gone on to be successful executive ".

 

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