Last week, we saw the release of our third annual OUTstanding & FT Leading LGBT & Ally Executives Lists, which celebrate positive LGBT and supportive ally role models for their success and contribution to LGBT inclusion in business. Now in their third year, our lists were populated with some of the most senior business leaders across the world, in companies that collectively employ almost six million people. This year’s publication also saw the introduction of our new ‘Top 30 Future Leaders’ category, making them our biggest and most inclusive lists to date.
We saw far greater diversity within the lists this year, with Inga Beale (CEO of Lloyd’s of London) taking the top spot on the Top 100 LGBT Executives list, making her both the first woman and the first openly bisexual person to do so. Martine Rothblatt, the CEO of United Therapeutics, is the highest ever ranking transgender executive at number four on the list. This year in particular has been truly momentous for transgender rights and visibility, so it’s really encouraging to see that reflected in this year’s Top 100. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook topped the list of allies in recognition of the pioneering work his company does for LGBT inclusion globally. And he was in great company, with the likes of the CEOs of JP Morgan, Babcock, British Land, Unilever, Aon, Dow Chemicals, and many others. The lists were an inspiring and powerful message of support for LGBT inclusion from some of the world’s leading companies, and we should take this as cause for celebration.
While we’re seeing positive, significant change, we believe more business leaders need to get on board. We know that workers are 32% more productive if they are able to be open about their gender identity and sexual orientation with their colleagues, and we know that closeted employees are 73% more likely to say they intend to leave their companies within the next three years. Meanwhile, 62% of Generation Y LGBT graduates who were out at university go back in the closet when they start their first job, and a shocking 90% of transgender individuals have experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job.
Leadership really matters. Leaders need to recognise that this amounts to a serious talent and productivity challenge, and that they are responsible for setting the tone and culture in any organisation which makes inclusion work. Role models, both LGBT and Ally, need to step up and lead the way to demonstrate every day that you can be successful, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity.
One of the aims of OUTstanding is to become obsolete in the next decade, for things to have progressed so much that an LGBT professional network is a luxury, not a necessity.If we want to achieve that, we have to recognise the positive signals that come from the increasing diversity of this year’s list, but also to remember how much we have left to do — and business leaders have a vital role to play here.