On March 30, six of Wall Street’s major banks - Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citi, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley — joined together at 'Out on the Street', a summit convened to discuss issues vital to the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Deutsche Bank hosted the inaugural summit, which focused on issues of culture change, recruitment, client development and driving business impact during four panel discussions.
Mark Chamberlain, Head of Diversity, for Deutsche Bank, Americas, said: 'Deutsche Bank is thrilled to be part of the first-ever Out on the Street Summit. We are particularly proud of our own efforts on the LGBT front, yet we know that by collaborating with our Wall Street peers we will collectively be able to make even more progress going forward. By doing so, we can all ensure that Wall Street continues to be an employer of choice for the LGBT community'.
A conference on such issues would not have secured the participation of successful, high-level executives a decade ago. But today, this showcases a largely unnoticed evolution: the transformation of Wall Street into a welcoming industry for LGBT employees.
'Being a successful global business leader means having a workforce that is reflective of the diverse clients we serve', said Tom Montag, president, Global Banking and Markets, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. 'By instilling an inclusive and diverse culture in which everyone feels valued and secure, we will continue to attract and retain the best people who can perform at their greatest ability. We are honored to be part of this ground-breaking event'.
Todd Sears diversity leader and banker, conceived of the idea for the summit and helped to bring the banks together.
'The response has been overwhelming, and we’ve already had interest from a number of additional banks for 2012. The fact that so many senior executives from these six banks are committed to Out on the Street, shows that these issues matter to the business, not just human resources and diversity'. Sears said.
'Citi is proud to sponsor Out on the Street and help bring Wall Street's collective voices together to foster support and inclusion of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community as employees, clients, suppliers and community partners', said panelist Bonnie Howard, Chief Auditor, Citi. 'This dynamic forum is a great way to demonstrate the commitment of senior leaders to promoting an inclusive work environment where all employees can develop, contribute and succeed'.
From a talent and recruiting standpoint, the relevance of the summit is clear. Financial services, and especially banking, face one of the most competitive environments for recruiting and talent of any industry. This constant need for employees at all levels has brought Wall Street to the forefront on diversity issues, especially as it relates to the LGBT community.
'At Morgan Stanley we know that we serve our clients better, recruit top talent more effectively, and enhance the strength of our global workforce because we prioritize inclusive leadership and value diverse perspectives and the richness of what makes us different', said Jeffrey Siminoff, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Morgan Stanley and Out on the Street panel moderator. 'By empowering our people and prospective employees to bring their full selves to the table, we leverage differences to drive best-in-class business results and enhance the development of our talented professionals. Our proud commitment to LGBT diversity fully incorporates each of these foundational Morgan Stanley principles'.
This new Wall Street impacts employees at a personal level. When employees are able to bring all their talents to work, they are naturally more productive, happier and better performers. For LGBT employees, the ability to be out at work is a major factor in their success and decision to remain at a firm.
'LGBT people often imagine the negative consequences of coming out at work. Consider, instead, the positive consequences of being authentic with your colleagues', said R. Martin Chavez, Partner, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs. 'For me, bringing all of myself to work has created immense opportunities to connect with peers and leaders. There's no question in my mind that being out and authentic at work is the necessary condition for my success and happiness at Goldman Sachs.
Banks have another reason to successfully address LGBT issues: the market opportunity. Most banks for example, already have teams of private bankers who focus on the needs of LGBT clients'.
'The LGBT community pervades every aspect of our work, encompassing our employees, clients, suppliers and the communities where we do business. Being a diverse and LGBT aware company provides us with the context in which to make smarter business decisions and better serve our clients', said Guglielmo Sartori di Borgoricco, Global Head of Distribution. Barclays Capital.
In addition, the overall LGBT market opportunity has been estimated to reach $845 billion according to a survey by Witick‐Combs/Harris Interactive. Developing the right relationship is imperative with this market, for example by creating strategic business opportunities with LGBT non-profits.
This is not to say that Wall Street has found the solution. The fully inclusive workplace is still elusive, since a large percentage of LGBTs are still in the closet at work. To that end, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, President of the Center for Work-Life Policy will preview some of the Center's newest research on LGBT at work and the power of 'out' in the workplace.
Out on the Street aims to address these issues by providing a forum for discussion, which will provide insight on how Wall Street can continue moving forward