Pride month: LGBTQ diversity in banking and finance

23 June, 2021Mutahara Gofur

Rainbow flagResearch has found that businesses with higher diversity levels generate 43.4% more revenue, due to more innovative products and services. However, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) people are often left out of this conversation. For Pride month, we look at how the banking and finance sector can help their LGBTQ progress in their careers.

LGBTQ diversity in the workplace

To make the workplace more inclusive, organisations must first assess the experiences of their LGBTQ employees to understand the current issues they face.

Earlier this year, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reported that 40% of lesbian, gay and bisexual and 55% of transgender employees experienced conflict and harassment in the workplace. In comparison, 29% of their heterosexual and cisgender colleagues experienced the same.

Research from Mckinsey has found that employees’ stress levels increase when they’re the only person of a certain ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender in a group.

This highlights the importance of LGBTQ representation. Not only does it prevent feelings of isolation, but gives people hope that they can also progress in a career they enjoy.

LGBTQ experiences in banking and finance

Although there is still work to be done, the banking and finance sector has made significant progress to be more inclusive for LGBTQ employees.

The Interbank LGBT Forum, formed in 2002, is an LGBT network for employees working in banking and finance which aims to create a safe space to address any obstacles LGBTQ employees face in the workplace.

It also tackles issues such as career development of LGBTQ people, as well as the recruitment and retainment of LGBTQ talent. Several big banks are heavily involved in this initiative, such as HSBC, Lloyd’s Banking Group and Barclays who have sponsored many Pride events.

Last year, Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers List, which recognises employers’ efforts and success in creating an inclusive work environment for LGBTQ people, also included several banks and financial services. Among that list was Bank of America, Barclays, Citi Group and KPMG.

Making organisations more inclusive

Many people in the banking and finance sector have worked hard to make the industry more inclusive. But if you’re looking for a few quick wins to make your organisation more inclusive, here are a few things to consider.

Avoid using non-heteronormative language, that is, assuming that someone is heterosexual by default. It’s particularly important to use gender-neutral language in job adverts.

If you want to engage with a more diverse talent pool, you could advertise for roles in publications aimed at LGBTQ people.

Mentoring is a great way to ensure people get relevant support and advice tailored to their career progression and their individual needs. It also provides a space where people can feel comfortable expressing concerns without fear of judgment.

If you already offer mentoring, think about how you could extend the programme specifically to support LGBTQ employees as well as other under-represented groups.

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