LGBT-Inclusive workplaces are built from leadership, advocates and data

In 2004, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was created to raise awareness about the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people throughout the world. According to the IDAHOT website, May 17th was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

More than a decade later, the global LGBT community experiences much wider acceptance, however there is still progress to be made as research shows that workplace homophobia is still prevalent.

There are steps corporate leaders can take to foster inclusive work environments where LGBT employees feel safer and more accepted, and are therefore able to more actively contribute to a company’s success.

Last month, Raymond Trau, lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia, wrote an article about this issue for The Conversation, an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community. In it he suggests that companies need to take specific steps in order to attract and retain LGBT talent, as well as promote collaboration amongst diverse teams. These steps include:

  • Increase the visibility of LGBTI leaders
  • Provide clear guidance to all employees about avoiding unconscious bias
  • Invest in implementing specific LGBTI-inclusive policies and practices
  • Create diversity champions

As more companies invest in these types of efforts, it is also becoming easier to access data to assess what a better workplace looks like.

The Human Rights Campaign in the U.S. and Pride in Diversity in Australia, have both created indices that measure workplace equality for LGBTI employees, and implemented programs to recognize companies that are driving this momentum.

  • Last December, Bloomberg was named one of the Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality, receiving a perfect score on the 2017 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
  • Pride in Diversity, Australia’s not-for-profit employer support program for LGBTI workplace inclusion, which publishes the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI). The index has been acknowledging the top LGBTI-inclusive employers in Australia since 2010. Bloomberg was recently added to this index as of May 2017.

Inclusion in the AWEI signifies a company’s prioritization of LGBTI inclusion in their organizational culture. The AWEI sets a rigorous and comparative benchmark for Australian employers across all sectors.

To celebrate this honor in joining this exclusive list of AWEI recognized employers, Bloomberg held a reception illuminating the Sydney office rooftop with employees and clients. The rainbow lighting was a representation of Bloomberg’s commitment to LGBT inclusivity. “I was proud to see our office be such a terrific beacon for LGBTI pride and diversity,” said Jason Gale, Senior Editor for Bloomberg News in Asia.

Bloomberg leaders – Erika Irish Brown (left), Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion and Emily Gordon (right), Head of Sales in Australia and New Zealand, activates the rainbow lights on the Bloomberg Sydney roof terrace.

Exterior view of the illuminated Bloomberg Sydney rooftop celebrating Bloomberg’s addition to the AWEI.

As a member of the LGBT and Ally Community at Bloomberg, Gale and his colleagues serve as diversity champions of the company’s stance on LGBT-inclusion. He comments, “Bloomberg is intentional in making everyone feel included in the Sydney office, and supporting LGBTI employees are a big part of that.”

Through leadership, culture champions and participating in LGBT workplace indices, companies can develop more inclusive work environments – and make more informed assessments similar to how investors and business leaders use data analysis in financial investments. As an example, gender equality is often discussed in broad cultural and political terms, versus through the lens of performance data that highlights the contributions women can make in the workplace and business. In 2016, Bloomberg launched the first ever Gender Equality Index (GEI) for Financial Services, this index is a review of financial services firms’ gender-equality policies and practices with data collected from 27 companies, providing additional insights for investors to evaluate companies.

There is more work to be done, but progress is possible through leadership commitment and investing in fundamental programs for attracting and retaining LGBT talent, as well as measuring success.

For more information and for available opportunities check out Bloomberg's profile here.