November 23, 2018 / 9:08 AM / 21 days ago

City pioneer calls for LGBT+ boardroom targets in Britain

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain’s gay and trans community should press for targets to propel LGBT+ workers out of the closet and into the boardroom, one of the world’s top openly bisexual executives has said.

The former chief executive of specialist insurer Lloyd’s of London, Dame Inga Beale, said they should aim to emulate Britain’s 30% Club, which has lobbied successfully to get more women on the boards of major companies.

But she said people’s reluctance to be open about their sexuality or gender identity at work made it harder to collect the data needed to launch such an initiative.

“Targets would be great, but we need the data,” said Beale, who was both the first woman and the first bisexual person, to head the annual power list of the world’s top 100 LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – executives.

“I would love it if everyone declared it whether straight, gay, trans or whatever – so we can get some data – and then an idea of a 30% Club … and to set a target would be fantastic,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

Founded in 2010 by an influential group of prominent female executives working predominantly in the finance industry, the 30% Club, has been instrumental in shifting the percentage of women on boards.

According to research by the Financial Reporting Council, last year women represented 27.7 percent of Britain’s FTSE 100 leading companies - up from 12.5 percent in 2010.

Many LGBT+ people still choose to remain in the closet even in countries with anti-discrimination laws, a survey earlier this year revealed.

Almost half of gay and trans people in the United States are not out at work, according to data from Human Rights Campaign.

Research by LGBT+ rights group Stonewall found a third of gay and transgender people in Britain hid their sexuality or gender identity from work colleagues.

Daniel Winterfeldt, a partner in the financial industry group at law firm Reed Smith, said action was needed to ensure people felt confident in coming out.

“In order to get change and bring about change, you have to do things in a targeted way,” he said.

“The 30% Club was very focused and was very successful in getting people laser focused on the gender issue and a replication around LGBT is something that we do need.”

Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org

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