A chance encounter leads to an award-winning LGBT+ screenplay
Winning a prestigious Cannes Film Festival award exploring the gender perceptions through the story of an intersex banker came from a chance encounter of two colleagues and the willingness to be open.
At Credit Suisse we are proud of our inspiring leadership and our colleagues' engagement for the topics that matter to them. And when the right person crosses your path with the right message at just the right time, amazing things can happen. Like the meeting between Pips Bunce, an intersex director and high profile campaigner on behalf of the LGBT+ community, and colleague Joachim Böttcher which sparked a creative venture that’s gaining international accolades.
Being involved in an earlier production of a Credit Suisse LGBT+ Ally video, Joachim was shocked by the injustices and prejudices the LGBT+ community face. He wanted to raise public awareness of gender identity, gender expression and transgender and intersex themes, but he didn't have a shape for the story. When he met Pips at the 2017 Coming Out Day Panel in Zurich, it crystalized his desire to speak out and create something that would reach a wider audience.
To understand what happened next we need to dive deeper into Pips' story.
Pip's life at Credit Suisse as an intersex person
As the first person to come out as gender fluid at work at Credit Suisse, Pips is no stranger to pioneering pathways and uplifting the voices of the LGBT+ community. Pips' goal has always been to empower people to be their authentic selves and to create a workplace that celebrates all individuals. After coming out at work, Pips was determined to drive cultural change and help others in their situation. In addition to working with mentors and mentees at Credit Suisse she gives presentations across a range of organizations and groups educating employers and staff about the needs and rights of Trans people of all identities. Her work is reflected in her recognition as a shortlisted Top 10 Inspiring Leaders in the British LGBT Award and 4th position in the Financial Times and OUTstanding LGBT and Ally Executive Leader list.
When Joachim heard Pips speak spoke about transsexuality and describe how she has a double-sided staff photo on the Credit Suisse staff directory – one showing Pips as a woman and the other as a man – he was instantly inspired. Pips' willingness to openly embrace her fluid identity demonstrates not only strength of character, but shows how the Credit Suisse workplace supports non-binary colleagues.
Coming out as non binary and gender fluid at work was a pivotal moment for Pips. The pressure and distress of having to hide who she was taking a toll on her mental health, so when Pips was able to come out it felt like a huge weight was lifted from her shoulders. She was finally able to be her true self in a gender diverse environment where they were supported and encouraged.
'I strongly believe that diversity should be celebrated and not just "tolerated" and so having amazing people like Joachim and the 6,000 or more other Allies here at Credit Suisse make a seismic difference. In my mind, we are all the same but uniquely different, or as Oscar Wilde once said, "Be yourself as everyone else is taken".'
Taking inspiration from groundbreaking colleagues
Inspired by Pips' story of her life as a gender fluid person, and her honesty, openness and courage, Joachim started re-writing his screenplay. He had found the perfect voice through which to tell a crucial and often hidden story, and to drive positive change in society.
'And this is why Joachim is a shining example of an impressive LGBT+ Ally – he has learned about a topic, and shows so much compassion, empathy and sincerity. He used his own platform and amazing skills to go out and inform and educate others through his work about the huge impact LGBT+ Allies can make and how we all can step up and make such a positive difference.'
The result is Alex*, the story of an intersex banker. The film examines traditional gender perceptions within the banking industry and explores binary thinking about identity and gender roles. The screenplay has won two prestigious awards, one for best non-produced European screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival Award and Best Feature Script at the International Diversity Film Festival 2021. Filming is hopefully starting in 2022.
The meeting between Pips and Joachim, and the fantastic ripples it caused, shows us that when we are open to exploring issues, to hearing people’s experiences and to driving change for a more equal, fairer world, great things can happen.
'A small change of perception makes a huge difference. It will lead to a change in your mindset and it’ll just get, yes, easy.'