The Investment Association Event: ‘Bringing our whole selves to work’ – July 2018

Thu, August 02, 2018

Yesterday evening LGBT Great supported The Investment Association with a panel discussion led by their Chief Executive, Chris Cummings, at Fidelity’s offices in London. The event was attended by over fifty people from a range of investment firms and stimulated a conversation about how the industry could improve LGBT+ diversity in the UK.

This year the IA, the UK Trade Body for the asset management industry, recognised Pride in London for the first time with an especially designed rainbow logo and the production of their report on LGBT+ ‘Bringing our whole selves to work’. Much of this momentum can be attributed to the talented Paul Scaping, the IA’s Senior Government Affairs Manager and also an LGBT Great Role Model. This event was in follow up to the report to discuss its core themes. It is steps such as these which are crucial for developing effective conversation which can lead to inspiring change.

The event was opened by Fidelity’s President, and interim CEO Simon Haslam who provided a powerful opening remark about Fidelity’s commitment to LGBT+ inclusion not just in the UK but globally. Despite diary clashes, Haslam was allegedly adamant that he wanted to make an address from the top which set the stage for the rest of the event. Hats off! Cummings chaired a detailed debate between panellists, including our Managing Director Matt Cameron, who provided a snapshot of current state of LGBT+ inclusion within the sector. Matt also highlighted that LGBT+ inclusion is becoming increasingly important for future talent and all young people. It was recognised that there have been some positive progress across the larger firms and there is significant work to do in taking this wider.

Panellists from Schroders, LGIM and Hermes all shared their personal experiences within the industry. One audience participant pointed out that all too often such events focus on positives and that the negatives are often either over looked or ignored. In response, Matt pointed about that the LGBT Great ‘A starting point for LGBT+ inclusion with then investment industry’ indicated that 40% of people working in the industry have experienced homophobic or transgender ‘banter’ which had had a negative impact on their lived experience at work.

LGBT Great Role Model, and Head of Inclusion & Culture at Legal & General Investment Management, Colette Comerford provided a powerful overview of her own personal experiences of working within the sector. Having experienced negative behaviour at work she told an emotive story about how LGBT+ people can be singled out. Colette commented that intersectionality is becoming progressively more important and that by creating inclusion for LGBT+ people that you also create wider inclusion for everybody at the same time.

It should be pointed out that there are lots of positive experiences in the investment industry too. Alexander Ross-Parkinson, UK Intermediary Business Developer at Schroders in London, said that he has had always experienced acceptance at work both internally and with his clients. He also pointed out that the launch of their LGBT+ network had gained significant traction internally. Jenny Whiteman from Hermes Investment Management, Legal Services Director, also stated that she worked within an inclusive environment at work and felt accepted. For the first time this year she pointed about that Hermes’ logo was ‘rainbowed’ for Pride in London which had received excellent feedback from colleagues and clients across the board. Jenny also referred to the fact that many non LGBT+ colleagues had chosen to wear a rainbow lanyard which had a very positive impact across the firm.  

A key theme was that most heterosexual people do not feel comfortable in having ‘the conversation’ about sexual orientation and gender identity due to fear of getting something wrong. This points to a lack of understanding and education and is a problem which the investment industry needs to solve. Until this happens, LGBT+ people will have a challenge in bringing their whole selves to work. Despite there being a real appetite for inclusion old habits die hard.

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