Make it real: 5 ways that LGBT+ inclusion can have a positive impact in the investment industry

Sat, January 19, 2019

The case for LGBT+ diversity and inclusion has long been established and numerous studies have concluded that it has a positive impact on the bottom line. This can be attributed to a whole series of causation factors related to people, propositions and customers. It is also fact that those organisations embracing LGBT+ presence have stronger brand differentiation and attract a more diverse workforce. This has a powerful impact by creating higher levels of connectivity with young people and aspiring talent. However, these powerful benefits are often overlooked because they are detached and unconscious to the majority.

In most businesses there is an overwhelming propensity to view LGBT+ diversity and inclusion in isolation. A general perspective is that setting up an LGBT+ employee resource group ‘equals’ inclusion when the reality could not be further from the truth. Such groups can actually alienate the majority and cause disconnects which inhibit rather than enhance progress. Such a concept is therefore a barrier to understanding and realising the true benefit of LGBT+ talent and inclusion across an organisation. Any approach needs to be fully understood, relevant and embedded across the whole workforce to be truly effective. It also needs a bespoke measure to substantiate improvement and return on investment.

It is clear that the investment industry has a lower level of LGBT+ inclusion maturity in comparison to other sectors. Whilst some people may view this as a negative, I see this as a positive because there is a real opportunity to get this right by avoiding the mistakes other sectors have made. Therefore, I encourage all firms to develop a diligent and robust strategy before raising their heads above the parapet to focus on the real issues at hand. LGBT+ talent can see straight through ‘window dressing’ and this phenomenon is more important to future talent overall. So best get it right - no pressure!

The good news is that LGBT+ inclusion offers an opportunity to catapult forward progress across the investment industry. It offers a solution to greater vibrancy and creativity along with higher levels of inclusive leadership overall. This is much needed if you consider that the sector is 76% men, in the UK 96% investing decisions are made by men, there is a 56% gender pay gap, only 1% identify as BAME, 3% LGBT+ and over 62% say that there are not enough visible role models or allies. These barriers to attracting diverse talent are an inhibitor to innovation and create an overall negative picture of the sector amongst young people. LGBT+ presence is powerful because it places the focus on difference and individuality and encourages a culture of intersectional solidarity between all employees, clients and investors. 

Start by developing a simple understanding of how LGBT+ inclusion can benefit all employees. Here are my 5 top benefits:

 1.     Engaged leadership. Agility, empathy, emotional intelligence, resilience, connectivity and collaboration are all core components of inclusive leadership. These are all exhibited in high levels by LGBT+ people and this style of leadership produces greater levels of employee engagement and high performance in teams.  

2.     Greater belonging. LGBT+ people and inclusion places an emphasis on individuality and respect for difference. This yields higher levels of understanding and produces more connected relationships between employees. In turn, this encourages higher levels of authenticity and improves confidence in people ‘being themselves’ at work.

 3.     Wider attraction. Over 80% of all young people seek an employer who values inclusion and aspire to work for a brand which is ethical and promotes respect. LGBT+ inclusion acts as a litmus test increases the diversity of all applicants applying for jobs.

 4.     Brand differentiation. Standing out from the crowd with an innovative LGBT+ presence can boost share performance. The LGBT+ market is worth in excess of 5 trillion USD and 78% of LGBT+ people and their family and friends would switch brands to a company which is known to be LGBT+ inclusive. Firms can ‘get’ more business.

 5.     Intersectional ‘allyship’. LGBT+ inclusion creates a culture of advocacy, communication and openness and this encourages higher levels of intersectional solidarity and cultural cohesion between all groups.

What is your firm doing to realise the benefits of LGBT+ inclusion? 

Matt Cameron, Managing Director - LGBT Great @MattJCam 

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