Out Leadership Founder & Principal Todd Sears presented “Inclusive Leadership: Lessons Learned Based on the LGBT Experience,” hosted at the Toronto offices of Blake, Cassels & Graydon. This is the first time Out Leadership has engaged with Canadian business leaders in Canada. Representatives from major international and Canadian companies attended, including AIG, Bank of Montreal, Deutsche Bank, Ford Motor Company, and Royal Bank of Canada.
Sears was honored to be introduced by Ed Clark (pictured above right), the former President and CEO of TD Bank Group, and a strong, committed ally of LGBT people. In 1994, TD Bank was one of the first institutions in Canada to provide partner benefits to same-sex couples. And 20 years later, to coincide with WorldPride Toronto 2014, Clark gave a groundbreaking speech at the Economic Club of Canada calling on business leaders in Canada and abroad to make a difference by standing up and supporting the global LGBT community.
Sears’ presentation focused on how diversity drives business, with particular attention being paid to LGBT issues. Sears spoke on how diversity improves business results and brands by allowing companies to leverage the best possible talent. Diversity also drives innovation, because employees with diverse backgrounds can provide unique insights and access into different markets. Senior leader engagement with inclusion is especially important, as employees who are “sponsored” by senior leaders are significantly more likely to ask stretch assignments, and report being much more satisfied with how they are advancing in a company.
Sears also pointed out the specific benefits of LGBT workplace acceptance. Almost 80% of LGBT jobs seekers take into account a company’s LGBT benefits and a full 20% of LGBT employees joined a firm primarily because of the company’s stance on LGBT equality issues. LGBT buying power in Canada, moreover, is estimated to be as much as $170 billion.
Blakes is one of the largest law firms in Canada, operates in multiple countries worldwide, and was named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2015. Firm Chair Brock Gibson, Q.C. (pictured above left) has long been an advocate for diversity. “For us, celebrating diversity means celebrating each member of the Firm.”