Taking Pride in our people

This coming weekend, over one million people will take part in Pride in London, itself the culmination of a month of Pride celebrations across the country.

The parade is the largest LGBT+ event in the UK and the 7th largest globally. It provides a great example of how London, and the UK more broadly, welcomes and celebrates people regardless of who they are, who they love, or how they wish to express their identity.

Many firms from across the industry are supporting Pride in London, including Barclays, PwC, and CMS, while others are actively supporting Pride within their firms. The theme this year is Jubilee, recognising the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York. It’s worth reflecting on the extent and pace of change between that event, and one million people parading and celebrating through the streets of London. We have come a long way, and much of the credit for this lies with the tireless work of campaigners. But there is also something to be said for those forward-looking people, many in the business world, who recognise the benefits of embracing the contribution and ideas from the most diverse range of people.

Diversity and inclusion is an issue at the forefront of many business leaders’ minds, and financial and related professional services is embracing this agenda and playing a leading role in LGBT+ inclusion. The FT’s OUTstanding lists of LGBT executives and allies includes 105 financial and related professional services executives out of a total of 222 from all industries. The message is clear, if you have the talent and are prepared to work hard, there is the opportunity to rise to any level in our industry, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender status.

However, we must not be complacent. As an industry that runs on talent, embracing inclusion and diversity is vital to the continued success of UK-based financial and related professional services. The interim report from the Chancellor’s Financial Services Skills Taskforce has identified areas where the sector needs to do much better if it is to retain its competitive advantage into the future, highlighting diversity, in the broadest sense, as one of the key areas on which the industry needs to focus.

According to a Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain report, more than a third of LGBT staff in the wider workforce (35 per cent) have hidden that they are LGBT  for fear of discrimination at their workplace. While not specific to our industry, we can and should set an example by making sure that all our colleagues feel comfortable in the workplace to express who they are. . As employers, it is vital that we are clear and committed about our approach to diversity and inclusion.  We have come a long way in the last fifty years. As we rightly celebrate that progress, let’s not lose sight of the need to maintain it.