Why are there so few LGBT+ CEOs in business?

Executives from the INvolve OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Models Lists

Some of the executives that feature in the INvolve OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Models Lists

INvolve, the global network championing diversity and inclusion in business, is calling for companies to collect data and set targets in order to increase LGBT+ representation.

Several companies have published public targets for gender and ethnically diverse representation but not LGBT+, leaving LGBT+ employees out in the cold when it comes to holding companies to account on diversity with hard data.

The call comes as yesterday (Tuesday 19th January) marked the launch of the annual INvolve OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Models Lists, supported by Yahoo Finance, which celebrates businesspeople playing a key role in breaking down barriers at work for LGBT+ individuals; using their positions to keep diversity and inclusion at the top of the agenda.

There are currently just four publicly out LGBT+ CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and no publicly out LGBT+ CEOs in the FTSE 100; and these figures haven’t improved for several years. In fact, there are now fewer LGBT+ CEOs in the FTSE 100 than in 2018.

In recognising that representation across the globe needs to change, INvolve is calling for companies to collect data on LGBT+ individuals at board and executive level, just as they do for gender and race. It should also be the intention of organisations to set targets for LGBT+ representation when it comes to pipelining and candidate slates for leadership positions. They should also collect data company-wide and set targets for LGBT+ representation across all levels.

INvolve’s Founder and CEO, Suki Sandhu OBE, who was awarded his OBE in 2019 for services to diversity in business said: “These lists demonstrate that you can be successful and out at work, but most importantly also inspire the next generation of LGBT+ leaders to reach these senior positions. It must be made a top priority that LGBT+ inclusion does not fall behind other areas of inclusion but instead joins the general call for accountability and action. This is why INvolve are also calling for targets to be set to improve LGBT+ representation.

“Companies need to be vocal on LGBT+ rights everywhere and show their support for the issues in all the regions they operate in. LGBT+ professionals are managing an array of obstacles alongside the pressures of their day jobs; from overcoming bias or discrimination or having to deal with the mental and emotional impact of coming out repeatedly to colleagues and clients. It’s our role to ensure LGBT+ professionals have that access and opportunity to climb the corporate ladder.”

High flying professionals from over 20 different countries made this year’s OUTstanding Role Model Lists, illustrating the positive impact that so many businesspeople are having in actioning meaningful change for LGBT+ issues.

Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes tops this year’s global OUTstanding Executives Role Model List, with Moriaki Kida, Regional Chief Operating Officer at EY Japan taking the second spot. In the UK, Angela Darlington, UK Life CEO at Aviva Plc is number three. Darlington commented: “It’s a tremendous honour to have been included on the OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Model List in each of its eight years.

“The positivity I have received at being an out gay woman CEO has been fantastic and over the last decade the increasing energy, belief and enthusiasm I’ve seen across our LGBT+ community in business has been incredible. But there are still real challenges for our community and in these difficult times the role model list is an important showcase of the extraordinary LGBT+ talent succeeding in businesses globally.”

Also featuring in the Executives list include Allyn L. Shaw, President & CTO at Recycle Track Systems at number four, Javier Constante, President, Latin America at Dow at number seven, Amanda McKay, Quality & Assurance Director at Balfour Beatty at number 36 and Amin Kassam, Head of Legal, Asia-Pacific at Bloomberg at number 38.

Meanwhile, Leigh F. Capule, Migrations Manager at HSBC is named at number one in the OUTstanding 100 LGBT+ Future Leaders List, which highlights those tipped for future leadership success.

Leigh F. Capule said: “Being selected as the winner of 2020’s OUTstanding Future Leaders List is a validation that my identity as a Transgender Woman is being recognised, valued and celebrated.

“LGBT+ representation in leadership roles is critical for any organisation that endeavours to achieve inclusion. Recognition acknowledges our existence but having a seat at the centre table is proof that the Leaders of the organisation are embracing the culture of equality amongst its people.”

Greg Case, CEO of professional services firm Aon, has been named the leading Advocate for LGBT+ professionals in the 2020 honours alongside Microsoft’s Daniel Klein and Group Managing Director of Manchester United, Richard Arnold. Greg Case commented: “This great honor is a reflection of the incredible commitment and tireless work of our colleagues to cultivate a culture of inclusion at our firm and in our communities. We applaud INvolve for using its platform to continue to further LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation. We are dedicated to advancing our inclusion and diversity priorities at Aon and are proud of the progress we have made, knowing there is more work to be done.”