The Past, Present And Future Of LGBTQ+ In Finance
Commentary abounds as to how diverse companies reap the rewards from a more engaged workforce. Better recruitment and retention culture certainly, and, whilst profit-seeking should be the very last reason any company seeks representative equity, it is clearly a factor in long term, meaningful revenue.
The move to encourage and expand diverse workforces, and to create a more inclusive and representative decision-making fraternity, has rightly been focused on women and minority representation within finance – both of which continue to come up against a slow moving legacy culture of salary undercutting, and a lack of representation at board level.
This LGBT History Month, we look at the past and present of LGBT representation within finance and financial services, and highlight where great work is being done and where more can still be done.
Financial Factors Impacting the LGBTQ+ Community
- In a 2018 survey by Experian, 62% of LGBTQ respondents said they had experienced financial problems because of their gender identity or sexual orientation
- Approximately 8% of transgender adults have experienced homelessness, per the UCLA School of Law
- LGBTQ people make up 40% of homeless youth
The survey noted the top 5 financial factors were housing, medical costs, estate planning, taxes and family planning.
Despite great advances in civil law, such as legal representation in marriage, adoption and shared taxes, many members of the LGBT community are still marginalised, and incredibly vulnerable in the exclusion of services and service biases.
How finance gave LGBT people a seat at the table
Some good work and progress is being made however, such as this report in Fortune, titled “From “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to “Bring your whole self to work”: How finance gave LGBT people a seat at the table”. Article author Zach Buchwald tells a personal, and uplifting story of the visibility of financial corporate support for Pride in the early days of the Pride Festival in New York:
- “Pride parade was the first time I saw an expression of support from the financial industry. Some of those parade floats were sponsored by businesses like Chase and Citibank”
- “I began working at BlackRock…(who) had enacted broad anti-discrimination policies…(such as covering) taxes for LGBT employees who were partnered but not able to claim tax benefits available to married couples”
- “In 2012…(they) signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. (At the time, BlackRock was one of a few financial firms to take this public stand).”
Further stories, such as pieces highlighting the Bank of America’s Employee Resource Group, the LGBT Pride Employee Network, and Comerica’s LGBT Business Resource Group (who work to improve not only internal controls in relation to recruitment and representation, but also external support for marginalised communities, charities and non-profits) show a movement within leading financial bodies to better represent and work with LGBT communities.
Interbank LGBT+ Forum
In the UK, progress was personified in 2002 through the creation of the Interbank LGBT+ Forum. This has become a wider network of financial services firms, dedicated to:
- Creating an open and inclusive forum for LGBT+ employees from financial services firms in which to meet and discuss issues impacting LGBT+ employees
- Enabling the sharing of best practises
- Providing a forum for developing an appropriate collective response to LGBT+ issues that benefit financial services firms,
- Promoting and encouraging networking opportunities for LGBT+ Employees.
The forum roster reads like a list of global financial movers and shakers and includes Bloomberg, BNP Paribas, NatWest, Moody’s, JPMorgan Chase and more.
There are other guidance and financial leadership bodies, such as LGBT Money, and Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers List, which point to a more inclusive environment of financial and employment services that aim to undo the historical damage done to the LGBTQ+ community.
Articles highlighting LGBT leaders in the financial field, such as efinancialcareers.co.uk’s LGBTQ icons in banking and finance, where you can read about the visionary figures who came before, and who did so much to help LGBT representation in finance.
While there is still much work to be done, it’s worthwhile celebrating the small, incremental wins over the last two decades and before within international finance.
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