Hundreds of senior business leaders gathered on April 30, 2017 for the eighth annual Out Leadership: U.S. 2018 LBGT+ Senior Summit, sponsored by Ropes & Gray. The first session, hosted by Barclays, featured the launch of “Out to Succeed: Realizing the full potential of your LGBT+ talent,” the first comprehensive, international study of high-performing, high-potential LGBT+ emerging business leaders, presented by Out Leadership and PwC.
Joe McGrath, Global Head of Banking, Barclays, kicked the afternoon off: “In your meetings during the Summit, I hope that you are inspired as you hear and understand new perspectives. I also hope that you’ll make lasting connections that will help you and your organization in their journey towards creating a more equitable workplace. Barclays is deeply committed to building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment, because it is fundamental to our success as a business in attracting and retaining the very best talent. We want Barclays to be a place where everyone feels included, regardless of how they identify, and we are proud to have partnered with Out Leadership over many years to encourage others to do the same.”
Mark McLane, Managing Director, Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion, Barclays, also provided introductory remarks: “Today you’ll hear the results of the research Out Leadership and PwC conducted with participants in OutNEXT, the first global talent development program for emerging LGBT+ executives, which Barclays has proudly sponsored for the last four years. It’s very exciting. The experiences that emerging LGBT+ leaders have had, across industries, and the expectations they have, are very different than the experiences and expectations my generation had. I think there’s reason to celebrate that. We have data. And now we have the opportunity to take that data, and turn it into action.”
Todd Sears, Founder and Principal, Out Leadership, and Jon Terry, Global Financial Services People Leader, PwC UK, then introduced the results of “Out to Succeed.”
“We see that 60 percent of the emerging leaders we surveyed for ‘Out to Succeed’ report that they see their LGBT+ identity as something they can leverage within their company and with clients, as something that improves their ability to do business,” said Todd Sears. “That’s my favorite number in this report. The opportunity for companies is: how do you support that, and fully realize the potential it presents?”
“Those who know me know I’m obsessed with reputation and brand,” said Jon Terry. “I’ve done a hundred reports over the last 30 years, and you never see a statistic where 99 percent of a population says one thing. But 99% of LGBT+ emerging leaders say that when they’re considering companies, they consider their reputations as fair and equal employers of LGBT+ people. And just 57% of the employers say their reputation is a top factor in making their organization attractive to LGBT+ talent. That’s a big opportunity. Companies that can focus on building their overall image in the LGBT+ space will be in a better position to recruit and retain talent.”
Kathryn Wylde, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Partnership for New York City, then moderated a spirited panel discussion touching on the implications of “Out to Succeed” for business, as well as how the LGBT+ community can continue to cut through the noise of a crowded marketplace to continue to drive equality forward, with panelists Lou Aversano, Chief Executive Officer, Ogilvy USA, Thasunda Duckett, Chief Executive Officer, Chase Consumer Bank, and Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC (pictured left-right).
Thasunda Duckett: “Leadership matters. We know as leaders, what gets measured gets done. In my organization, what people see me do is what they understand the culture to be. Your company’s culture is the worst behavior you’re willing to tolerate. Start with the worst person on your team. That’s your culture. And so I ask myself, ‘What can I do as a leader to ensure that the worst behavior my organization is willing to tolerate is still great behavior?'”
Bob Moritz: “Around the world, not only here in the States, over the last couple years it’s become increasingly clear that there’s a bit of a gap in leadership, and that business needs to be more proactive, more assertive, and more forthcoming, in order to fill that gap. CEOs have seen that our voices are needed in the conversation. And I think that’s been getting the CEOs to gather a bit more and to share best practices in terms of what they’re speaking out on, whether it’s gun control, equal rights, education, healthcare. And because we’ve been talking with one another about speaking out, I think you’re seeing that the community as a whole has a bit more backbone. And that’s why you’re seeing this higher level of engagement and, perhaps, greater impact.”
Lou Aversano: “We’re living in an interesting moment. People are far more purpose-driven and they want to understand the beliefs and policies of companies, but our culture is also more divisive than ever before. And in that tension, you have two choices. You can either fall victim to it, or you can use it to drive innovation. When we’re working with brands and leaders, we’re finding that it’s so important to have the discussion, and lean into the tension. The tendency is to do the safe thing – the easiest thing would be to just try to duck and avoid the conversation entirely, instead of saying ‘How am I going to deal with these conflicting beliefs?’ But that only feels safe, it’s not actually safe. The new answers organizations need come from exploring the tension. As a CEO, you represent and lead a company of people who are Democrats and Republicans, and you’ve got to be really careful not to become so one-sided that you alienate a portion of your constituency who has a different set of beliefs.”
Thasunda Duckett: “People have noted that there’s a question of focus. That there’s a danger that when people start talking about #MeToo, does that mean that we’re no longer talking about LGBT+? Or #BlackLivesMatter? But we need to be talking about all of it. When you’re dealing with these issues, they’re not linear. I think there’s space to address all of these issues at the same time, because they all intersect on the same interests. People want to be accepted. People want a level playing field. People want to work for a company where they feel they can be their authentic selves, and in a company where people get called out for not being authentic. I think the light can shine on all of these issues at once. When you run a business as a CEO, you’ve got to walk and chew gum.”
Bob Moritz:”There’s a lot of noise, though. When you’re fighting for attention, noise gets in the way, and you can get outmessaged. If you think of LGBT+ equality as a brand, there is a danger that the brand gets less hot, becomes thought of as less of a pressing issue. I think the more you can remind people of the real issues at stake – the fact that LGBT+ people can still be fired in 31 states – the better. Unfortunately we live in a world that isn’t fair or equal, yet. And maybe we’ll get there someday. I never imagined that I’d be sitting her doing this, but I am, and there’s progress in that. But we have nine professional networks that all ask for attention and devotion, and we do the best we can to balance all of them, too.”
Lou Aversano: “If you look at the political environment, and really think about how people think and behave, I think it’s likely that a lot of the general public believes ‘Well, marriage equality happened, they’re fine.” And as a community, I think if you want to keep making progress, you’re going to have to fight a little harder and a little louder to break through the clutter.”
Richard Jeanneret, Americas Vice Chair, EY, discussed his personal journey of understanding LGBT+ and particularly transgender inclusion, in conversation with his son Henry Jeanneret.
“Almost 40% of transgender children attempt suicide at some point, which is just incredibly sad,” said Richard Jeanneret. “As a parent, your very first task is to keep your child alive. There’s no basic parental responsibility than that. You learn it from the moment they’re born and they come home. A baby cannot survive without its parents and so that becomes instinctive, and so when you’re the parent of a transgender child you go through a cathartic journey. I learned for the first time in my life as heterosexual white male what it was like to feel excluded. We’ve had family members who have rejected us over this. And that’s when I started to really appreciate the LGBT+ community, Todd. I started to have that epiphany moment where, ‘Wow, what I’m feeling must be on a very small scale, what LGBT+ people feel.’ I think as a leader I moved from being inclusive to being more compassionate and then as Henry got more comfortable with his transition and becoming more public, I started to do the same as well.”
Henry Jeanneret: “I’m much more vocal about my identity now. When I came out, I planned to identify as male, and not specify that I was transgender. Then the 2016 election happened, and there was a rise in hate crimes generally, and the climate for marginalized groups in this country started feeling much more hostile. You had HB2 in North Carolina, and other bathroom bills and that sort of thing. And I realized, I have to be out, because I need to have faith in myself and the countless other people who are fighting for their basic rights. And honestly, if there are people who are against me being myself, I don’t care. They’re not going to stop me from being me. If anything, it’s going to make me want to continue to be an advocate for my community and other marginalized people.”
Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, Partner, Ropes & Gray, closed out the day by discussing his work arguing Obergefell v Hodges before the Supreme Court, and why inclusion is important for business: “We just recently celebrated 150 years at Ropes & Gray and it’s a long tradition. It’s a good thing that we’re not exactly the same firm that we were 150 years ago. We have advanced in many ways. As a member of our governance board, I’m a steward of this institution. It’s part of my responsibility to leave it better for the next generation. And one of the ways we do that is making sure that every individual at our firm knows that they’re welcome and that they have the opportunity to fully realize their potential. And I’m thankful that we’re not alone in this and that every organization represented here today is as committed as we are to achieving these goals.”