Last week, I was lucky to attend the 3rd Annual Out on the Street conference, where 300 LGBT executives, along with some leaders who are straight allies, convened at Goldman Sachs. It was an excellent event that gave a platform to some amazing leaders to discuss their views on LGBT equality at work, workplace culture, and their role as allies to the LGBT constituents in their firms.
The work that has been going on in the gender space for women to advance is now almost 20 years old in some firms, and I believe could benefit and learn from the workplace LGBT movement, which is less than 5 years old and is gaining lots of support.
In fact, our research from last year shows that LGBT women are likely to be more active within their firm’s women’s network, rather than their LGBT group, relating most strongly to the challenges of being a woman in a male dominated workplace.
This also resonated at the event, with a heavy majority of attendees being LGBT men. The women’s panel, called “The XX Factor,” reinforced that sexism, overt or otherwise, can stall careers more than any other factor. Kathy Levinson, Managing Director of Golden Seeds who is openly gay, remarked, “The silence can be deafening when I am with gay men, as there is no obligation to be verbal and visible about being LGBT. The discrimination that women feel, by being visible, well, I relate to that more.”
It is evident that the firms that are gaining the most ground have leaders who understand talent and human capital and are striving to create workplaces where everyone can thrive.