For the first time, top executives from some of the biggest, most powerful companies in the world (think: Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, to name a few) are meeting this week (Nov. 13) to discuss the future of LGBT equality in the workplace. These financial world leaders will be attending the Out on the Street summit in Europe (the first event took place in New York earlier this year).
“When I created Out on the Street two years ago my primary objective was to leverage the collective power of the titans of financial services as an agent of change,” says the summit’s Founder Todd Sears. “To date, we have already made an unprecedented impact by bringing together more than 600 senior business leaders – 70 percent of whom are managing- director level or higher – and eleven member companies with more than $630 billion in market capitalization, in support of LGBT equality.”
The goal is to discuss how the financial services industry can help advance LGBT equality not just in the U.S., but globally. Leaders from select companies will speak about their companies’ support for LGBT equality and their personal commitment to advancing LGBT rights. “It is essential that business leaders make sure that LGBT people feel included in the workplace and not inadvertently excluded by thoughtless acts big and small,” says Lord Browne, former group chief executive of BP. “We do need more role models. No one should underestimate the impact of having successful and openly gay people working at companies, particularly at a senior level.”
The summit will also focus the importance of LGBT equality from a client perspective, including business development and client relationships; new research from the Center for Talent Innovation, an exploration of mobility and immigration, the role of straight allies, and an in-depth discussion of women’s experiences.
Many top CEOs are already realizing the impact of LGBT rights in the workplace when it comes to not only attracting top talent, but also keeping it – an overwhelming number of Fortune 500 companies have workplace protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. “Equality is critically important to Barclays because it helps to ensure that we provide our customers and clients with the best possible service,” says Antony Jenkins, CEO of Barclays.
Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, president of Bank of America, also adds, “Attracting, retaining and developing LGBT employees is key to our business success; to us diversity means business. We believe that creating a diverse, inclusive workforce where we can bring people from all backgrounds together produces a more dynamic, innovative and ultimately successful team. Crucially, maintaining a diverse workforce allows us to better represent our clients, which in turn, allows us to serve them more effectively.”