UK asset managers need to go further for LGBT staff

Employees from Schroders, Legal & General Investment Management and State Street will be among those representing asset managers at London’s Pride parade this weekend, but the industry still has a long way to go to combat prejudice and improve the working lives of LGBT workers, many groups say. The Investment Association, the UK trade body, today published 12 recommendations after consulting with asset managers about ways to make their organisations more inclusive. These include demonstrating to new staff during recruitment and induction that they welcome LGBT employees and encouraging senior managers to show support by participating in LGBT networks and events. A chief concern is ensuring that global asset managers with offices in the 73 countries where homosexuality is illegal are aware of local laws and attitudes, and provide support to employees who work or travel there. “Applying policies globally is undoubtedly a challenge as many countries are on different trajectories when it comes to issues such as gender diversity and LGBT,” said Pete Horrell, UK managing director at Fidelity International. “Of course none of this can be a substitute for any reforms governments should push forward themselves, but we definitely have a role.” The IA also recommended encouraging heterosexual colleagues to participate in LGBT networks and events at their employer as allies and that asset managers offer all employees training to broaden their understanding of LGBT issues. “Everyone should feel able to bring their whole selves to work,” said Chris Cummings, chief executive of the IA. “Whilst legislation over the past decade has rightly given LGBT+ colleagues the rights and protections others can enjoy, culture and preconceptions don’t always follow changes to the law.” Many fund managers have established LGBT and allied networks and have stepped up efforts to ensure areas such as parental leave and recruitment are unbiased according to gender or sexuality. Jupiter Asset Management and Man Group recently launched pride networks for employees. Those efforts have been more visible this month with some organisations, including Hermes Investment Management and the IA, using the colours of the rainbow flag in their online corporate logos. Schroders, the UK’s second-largest listed manager, also used the colours across the main doors of its offices in New York and London. “Everyone who visits us will see that support,” said Alex Ross-Parkinson, who works in Schroders’ intermediary business development team and who set up the group’s LGBT network three years ago. Both colleagues and clients attended his wedding two years ago but he said there was still work to be done throughout the industry as a whole to make LGBT employees more visible and comfortable with expressing their identities at work. “For our industry there is a long way to go” said Eoin Murray, head of investment at Hermes and leader of the company’s unity group. Financial services has a reputation for being a culturally traditional industry said Jess McNicholas, a managing director at State Street, meaning that visible gestures of support from colleagues are important. Employees at State Street can flag their status as “allies” on the group’s internal communications system. “To know there was a cohort of strong allies made them [employees] be more confident about being out in the workplace,” she said. Michael Mayer, who chairs the LGBT network at Legg Mason, said all employees need to be able to “[bring] their authentic selves to work every day”. Prejudice against non-heterosexual people is costly and damaging for organisations, said Paul Donovan, global chief economist at UBS Wealth Management. “A company that encourages staff to lie is not a great place to work. A company with a culture of dishonesty is not a great company to do business with,” he said. “An LGBT person who wastes time being careful what they say at work will be under stress. Stress makes people perform badly at work.”

Source: FT .com 

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