Pride month: LGBTQ careers in banking and finance

28 June, 2021Mutahara Gofur

Julien HayeAs Pride month draws to a close, Julien Haye, Global Head of Non-Financial Risk at Fidelity International and one of our visiting scholars, discusses his career and how to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ) people in banking and finance.

What inspired you to pursue a career in finance?

I had two career paths in mind growing up – running my own company or becoming a trader.

I explored investment banking and trading and applied for internships in banks when I finished studying. A year and a half later, I was promoted to a trader.

I eventually realised I preferred the business management side of things and for the past 15 years, I’ve been focussing on risk and treasury.

Why is LGBTQ representation in banking and finance important?

If you see someone like you in senior roles, you feel like you’ll get there too. That’s why representation matters.

Throughout my career, I lacked role models. I came out quite late and had a poor experience at a previous employer because of my sexuality. If I’d known of people like me who had dealt with similar situations, it would have helped.

I wanted others to have that support. That’s why I started A 1,000 Voices – a platform for LGBTQ people to share their experiences and seek help.

Sharing those stories feels great and has really helped people.

A friend of mine did an interview with us which some of his family saw. That was the first time they ever had a proper discussion about his experiences.

How can the banking and finance industry support LGBTQ employees?

There’s still work to do, but the industry has done a tremendous job recognising the need to support the LGBTQ community. At London Pride, several financial companies have been involved because they know it’s the right thing to do.

But I think organisations must recognise that needs differ among communities.

Managing LGBTQ talent is different to female or BAME talent, because the challenges those groups face aren’t the same.

Companies also need to help employees manage imposter syndrome. It’s still the norm to have mainly straight white men in senior positions. So sometimes when minority groups get promoted, they wonder whether it’s for diversity reasons and they question their value.

How have you overcome challenges in your career?

I’ve been bullied and harassed because of my sexuality in a previous job. In my experience, the solution lies with the person being bullied.

When you’re in that situation, it’s hard to look at it from an outside perspective. But you’re never alone and you can find help.

The UK has anti-discrimination laws in place to protect you and the company is liable for anything happening to you.

Before intervening, organisations also need to be confident about handling sensitive situations like this. They must know the appropriate support to give the person and the correct approach to take, otherwise they could make it worse.

Make sure the employee knows what help is available and that you’re there for them.

What is the highlight of your career?

Something that will always stay with me is when I managed a transformation programme around 15 years ago. I learnt a tremendous amount and worked with exceptional people.

But also, the work we’ve done at Fidelity International.

Last year, we became the first and only asset manager to be recognised in the Stonewall Global Workplace Equality Index which is a significant step. I’m extremely proud of how much the organisation has achieved in the last few years and how much the dialogue around LGBTQ issues has changed.

What advice would you give to LGBTQ people wanting to progress in a banking and finance career?

Be bold, be proud and be curious.

Don’t waste your energy hiding who you are. My career has been so demanding that I couldn’t have accomplished everything I wanted to pretending to be someone I’m not. To have a fulfilling and successful career, you must be true to yourself.

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