LGBT+ inclusion: what gets measured gets done

Wed, November 21, 2018

Review. Measure. Track. 

It is widely acknowledged that what gets valued gets measured and what gets measured gets done. The business case for diversity has been documented by Catalyst, McKinsey, Credit Suisse, and others for over 15 years.

However, diversity and inclusion (D&I)—while often touted as key to business success to attract, retain, and develop the best talent in the workplace and capture customers and clients in the marketplace by being more responsive to changing needs—rarely is measured.

Against this background business leaders are increasingly expecting to see the value and benefits that a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace culture can bring their organisation. However, it isn’t always easy to measure and track the progress made in this area and, crucially, the sought after positive impact that this progress returns to the business. When we look at this through the LGBT+ lens, asset management firms are potentially losing out on engaging and critically retaining a wider diverse talent pool, who have the requisite future skillset that is needed by firms if they are to maximise future opportunities on offer. 

Teams are as much as 158% more likely to understand target clients and consumers when they have at least one member who represents their target’s gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or culture.  Globally, the LGBT+ consumer market is estimated at $5.0 trillion.  This number is even higher if you factor in the spending power of allies. With 71% of LGBT respondents and 82% of allies more likely to purchase from a company that supports LGBT equality, can business really afford to not support inclusion and LGBT equality? 

Creating and sustaining an authentic and inclusive workplace culture is key to ensuring a diverse workforce feels not only values but that they belong. A common drawback organisations make is to focus on measuring solely on levels of diversity without combining this with measurements around levels of inclusion.

At the 2018 Diversity Project event a keynote speaker cited the risk of “diversity fatigue” and the need for firms to measure activity and action around inclusion. After all, it’s not just having a diverse workforce that gives firms and organisations a competitive edge. It’s about creating an environment where your workforce feel confident and empowered to offer their different opinions and experiences to the workplace and, through this, bring innovation and meaningful change to the organisation.  Research states that organisations with strong “diversity climates” (i.e., inclusive work cultures characterized by openness toward others and appreciation of individual differences) are likely to have teams with increased job satisfaction and knowledge sharing.

There is a myriad of diversity benchmarks out in there for asset management industry to utilise and engage with but the question is which is going to be the right fit “for us.  In order to be both meaningful and truly effective, firms need to apply measures based on their own organisation’s diversity and inclusion strategy. When looking at LGBT+ inclusion the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index has proved to be an effective tool in progressing LGBT+ best practice. However, some firms have said that the index is too generic and that one size doesnt fit all. 

The current industry focus for many firms is currently gender (96%) and race/ethnicity (83%). Just over half are looking at LGBT+ (58%) and only 39% are looking at inclusion. We believe passionately that LGBT+ talent holds the key for helping the asset management industry to be not only be viewed as inclusive but to also pole-vault ahead of many other sectors. The industry is on a journey towards LGBT+ inclusion but needs bespoke support in understanding, delivering and sustaining an LGBT+ inclusive culture due to the complexities and nuances of its environment. It is an important sector, so it needs an important approach. 

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