This year it has been hard to escape Pride season – throughout June and into July there have been events all around the world commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the effective start of the fight for equal rights for the LGBT+ community.
The celebration of diversity has gone well and truly mainstream, with companies from PWC and Barclays to Argos and GoPro changing their logos to include a rainbow flag. Marks and Spencers are even pushing a new “LGBT” sandwich, adding guacamole to the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato combo.
Our industry is also in on the action, with the Investment Association and Schroders amongst the organisations that are showing their support via updated logos.
Is this public outpouring of support for the LGBT+ community merely a sign of corporations attempting to “diversity-wash” their images, or reflective of deeper changes in their attitudes and approaches to D&I?
According to Stonewall, 6 in 10 LGBT+ 18-24 year olds are still choosing to hide their sexuality in the workplace, which is perhaps not surprising when 1 in 5 of those who have come out say they have been the target of negative comments or conduct in the workplace.
The Investment Association’s new report Do You Remember the First Time? (the follow up to last year’s Bringing Your Whole Self To Work report) is about coming out and being out in Investment Management and makes for interesting reading.
It highlights practical steps that can be taken to improve the experience of LGBT+ individuals in areas including recruitment, employee on-boarding, workplace policies and people management. It’s also encouraging to read a number of real-world examples of where these are being put into place across the industry.
What definitely feels like a positive change is the growing ground-up movement, supported by a number of Industry initiatives, that has been beginning to push the LGBT+ equality agenda more visibly in the last year or so. In 2019, the City of London has been host to more Pride related events than ever before, from talks and discussion panels, to the raising of the Pride flag over the Guildhall in the run up to London Pride this weekend.
Next week also sees the official launch of InterInvest – an industry wide LGBT+ network with the potential to make a real impact on how LGBT+ professionals surface and tackle the issues they face. This sits alongside LGBT Great, an initiative of the Diversity Project, which has just announced its 50-for-50 list of LGBT+ role models – an important part of the strategy for making LGBT+ professionals feel accepted and comfortable.
All of this suggests cause for optimism. However, we also shouldn’t forget that LGBT+ hate crimes are on the rise in the UK and in other parts of the world as the forces of populism become more prominent.
So are these public displays of support just rainbow-washing? The verdict isn’t clear.
Peter Tatchell, a prominent campaigner sees it as a capitalist sell-out of the Pride movement’s principles. However, even if some of the motives are cynical, and it is not a true reflection of real progress, at the very least the increased visibility of the Pride movement helps to further bring the LGBT+ community into the mainstream of public perception.
Here’s to more rainbow logos in 2020.
Main photo credit: Matias Altbach