Gerry Stone is a managing director in the technology & operations division of Bank of America, with 200,000 employees in more than 35 countries providing technology, operations, service and fulfillment to all divisions of Bank of America globally. Gerry has most recently held a number of Chief Operating Officer roles across the technology and operations division, with responsibility for the day to day running of the groups as well as the management of risk and controls for those functions.
Gerry is also executive sponsor of the LGBT+ Executive Council and the LGBT+ and Ally Employee Network across the enterprise with a membership of 26,000 and is a supporter to many other employee groups including Women in Technology & Operations, Hispanic/Latino Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA) Employee Network, Black Professionals Group and the Disability Advocacy Network. He also has a keen interest in the future generations of workforce and is a member of the Bank’s Inter-Generational Employee Network.
In his early 20s, Gerry started his fight for equality at University College Dublin, where he became one of the founding members of the officially recognized Gay Society, which he fought to have recognized. He continued to maintain a visible stance in support of LGBTQ rights in Ireland and England.
Gerry grew up in an environment when being LGBT in Ireland was illegal, based on certain laws dating from the nineteenth century that rendered male homosexual acts illegal. It wasn’t until 1993 that same-sex sexual activity in Ireland was decriminalized as a result of the campaign by Senator David Norris and the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform which led to a ruling in 1988 that Irish laws prohibiting male homosexual activities were in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights.
On moving to London, Gerry remained out and visibly supported the London Pride Parade, ultimately volunteering as deputy chief steward. Throughout his career he has supported LGBT colleagues, and always pushed for equality where it didn’t exist.
How and when did you first know that you were gay?
I’ve always known I was gay.
Describe how you came out:
I don’t remember it as a single event. I first came out in my teens at school in Ireland, but coming out doesn’t stop after the first time you come out. I have come out thousands of times since then – coming out as I joined new companies, new teams, met new friends or moved, and depending on the circumstance, each of these can be just as momentous as the first time.
Has coming out at work influenced your leadership approach and style?
Yes – being out at work allows me to be authentic. In turn, being authentic allows me to build genuine relationships with people and focus on the work at hand; whereas the times that I have not been out gave people the impression that I was withdrawn or not interested in building a connection with them. Not being authentic is destructive in so many ways. Being out at work has made me a better leader.
The next big thing for the global LGBT+ community is:
We need to visibly and proactively support each other, in particular, our transgender community. In many ways, the transgender community is being attacked in the same way the broader LGBT community was attacked in the 60s. We must remember that equality is fragile and we need to continue to drive and support equality, equity and inclusion globally, even where we think we have already achieved it.
Who are your role models?
I have had so many role models during my life and career. The thing to recognize is that role models can also be people who work for you – sometimes we forget that. Think of it as reverse mentoring.
The most important thing I have learned from a boss is:
You can overcome anything or change any of your behaviors – it’s how you deal with adversity or rejection that builds you as a leader. Also – know your blind spots.
If you could have any job other than the one you have now, it would be:
When in University I had planned to be an organizational psychologist. I have always been interested in how organizations work and how to get the best from people. It has definitely guided my leadership style over the years.
The best piece of advice I ever received was:
Be exceptional at what you do and be yourself.
If you were planning a dinner party and could invite any people from history, who would they be, and why?
Harvey Milk, Florence Nightingale, Magnus Hirschfeld, Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing, Marsha P. Johnson. It would be an eclectic group for dinner, but each of them challenged the boundaries in their own field and in the face of adversity, they demonstrated courage and conviction. I would love to know what encouraged them to stand up and be counted.
What recent events are you most proud of?
Two occasions come to mind – firstly when Ireland became the first country to legalize gay marriage by the popular vote in 2015 and secondly, when Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, one of four openly gay heads of government in the world, marched down 5th Avenue in New York with his partner at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2018.
What would be the opening song in a movie about your life, and why?
Most recently it is “This Is Me” sung by Keala Settle from The Greatest Showman. Although my husband thinks it should be “Suddenly I See” from The Devil Wears Prada … but I just don’t see the similarity!
The thing I could never live without is:
It may sound corny, or like the plot from the movie, but it’s just one thing – my husband! (Although my iPhone and laptop are close second and third places.)
My favorite vacation destination is:
Turks & Caicos – it’s our peaceful place!
My most important Ally is:
My husband. He has supported me though many challenging times – he is my rock!
But I also know I am surrounded by allies where I live and where I work. Working at Bank of America where we have more than 25,000 self-declared allies reinforces a loud message of support – and even the most “out” person still needs allies!
My first job was:
The three books I would take to a deserted island are:
I guess I don’t follow instructions well, as I would just take one book – a blank journal and pen – and I would write. I always have a notebook with me. Maybe I could use the time to write my book!