Forum seeks an inclusive environment

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am

International investment banks have been working together for more than a decade to create workplaces that are gay-friendly.

The Interbank LGBT Forum in Hong Kong has grown to more than 20 members, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, J. P. Morgan, Nomura, UBS and Barclays, and meets monthly to share ideas on creating an inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff.

Richard Seeley, managing director of operations at Barclays, which sponsored a survey on workplace inclusiveness by non-profit group Community Business, says investment backs are promoting inclusiveness to help them recruit top talent and motivate workers. And he says that the statistics back up their approach.

'If you look at any major study, it will show you that 10 per cent of any major population is LGBT, whether they are out or not, and studies also show that people who cannot bring their whole selves to work are 30 per cent less productive,' Seeley, who heads a mentoring programme at Barclays for LGBT staff, said.

'Barclays has 150,000 people globally, so you're looking at 15,000 people who are 30 per cent less productive, and that equates to hiring 4,500 people to do nothing.'

Seeley says another reason to promote LGBT-friendly workplaces is to stay in tune with the values of Generation Y - those born in the 1990s and the early part of this decade.

'Gen Y are looking for diversity, inclusion and acceptance, and they want to work for an organisation that demonstrates that,' he said. The feeling was clear at on-campus recruitment events.

James Wang Ching-yuan, director of operations at Barclays, is gay and represents the company on the forum.

Originally from Taiwan, he was not as open about his sexuality in previous jobs and would feel awkward when invited to weekend gatherings because 'while other people would bring their wife or husband, I wasn't sure if I could bring my partner'.

He said if he was considering changing jobs now, the most important factor would be whether the workplace would provide an equally inclusive environment.

Of the 1,002 people questioned for the Community Business survey, 80 per cent said companies should take steps to ensure LGBT employees were treated fairly.


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