October 27, 2016

Jessica de Kramer: On the business case for LGBTQ diversity in Europe

Jessica de Kramer

Jessica de Kramer


Earlier this week, OUTstanding and The Financial Times published their 2016 leading LGBT+ and Ally, and LGBT+ Future Leaders lists

Now in their fourth year, these lists celebrate the many incredible business role models who are proactively smashing negative LGBTQ stereotypes and accelerating diversity in their industries across Europe.

This year I was incredibly humbled to learn that I would be included in the LGBT+ Future Leaders through my involvement in co-chairing the EMEA chapter of BNY Mellon’s Employee Resource Group for LGBTQA employees, known as PRISM. It is a huge honour to be amongst such inspiring leaders.

Each and every person included in all three LGBT+ and Ally, and LGBT+ Future Leaders lists has one common aim – to prove you can be out and successful in business. We each believe strongly in the need for workplaces to be fully inclusive. Where everyone can be open and honest about whom they are without any fear of judgment. 

When it comes to financial services, I agree with my colleague Robert McClenaghan-Harrop from our Manchester office in the UK who recently said he has been impressed by the progressive attitudes of many financial institutions on the subject of diversity and inclusion.

Here at BNY Mellon, to put it simply, I can be me and bring my authentic self to work. I feel welcomed and appreciated by the company. My sexual orientation is irrelevant. That is not to say that LGBTQ prejudice within the financial services industry doesn’t exist. But progress is most definitely being made.

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, much of Western Europe has made progress when it comes to legal equality for LGBTQ people. But I believe there are still battles to be fought to eradicate prejudice and encourage equality – we must also do better than simply complying with minimum standards.

Individuals can only reach their full potential at work when they feel welcomed, accepted and comfortable in their own identity; LGBTQ employees are no different. There is little to be gained from raising more LGBTQ leaders into senior roles – creating much needed role models for younger LGBTQ talent – if they are forced to think and act like their heterosexual colleagues, or cover their identity to get there.

Becoming a diverse workplace requires us to attract a breadth of talent. Unlocking the potential of this diversity means appreciating and embracing each individual for who they are.

I am therefore encouraged by the European Commission’s commitment to publish a business case for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace and to make its own diversity strategy public. Much of the groundwork has already been done.

Early research already suggests that businesses which lack any openly LGBTQ managers perform consistently worse than those which do. Furthermore, LGBTQ employees who feel able to come out at work are far less likely to be considering leaving their job.

With a new generation of LGBTQ leaders and allies driving our LGBTQ policies forward, we are acting on this evidence. Through mentoring, online resources, openness and collaboration we are each making a difference and bringing us one step closer to a fully inclusive society.

Today, let’s celebrate our achievements to date. And tomorrow, let’s continue the push for equality in representation for all.