A 150-year-old British bank doesn’t immediately spring to mind as a diverse workplace. Yet while you might think the boardroom at HSBC UK would be full of stuffed shirts, Antonio Simões is working to change that, as HSBC UK’s openly gay CEO.
In an interview with The Guardian, he said, “It’s never going to happen again in the history of HSBC that a 39-year-old short, bald, Portuguese becomes CEO of the bank. But I hope – in fact, I am sure – that we will have a lot more gay CEOs for generations to come.”
HSBC is not the only UK organization to embrace more diverse boardrooms. From Virgin Group
to Lloyd’s Banking Group to the University of London, British business leaders agree that diversity in the workplace help a business’s bottom line. Companies on this side of the pond also agree. Google, a corporate sponsor of the National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, are marking gay pride month by added a rainbow-coloured heart and paper doll chain image to the top of its results page for LGBT-related searches.
My own organization, the Foreign Office, has evolved on this issue. Until 1991, the Foreign Office banned gay people from working there. Today, diversity and inclusion are main pillars of our organization. And we’re not the only UK government organization to feel that way – our military is rated the second most gay-friendly in the world.
From businesses to government, the UK has come a long way in my lifetime, and today equal marriage is legal in England, Scotland and Wales. To celebrate, the British Embassy will be proudly waving our rainbow and Union Jack flags together at Capital Pride for the third year.
We’ll be joined on the parade route by some great British businesses. Baker & McKenzie
, sponsoring our post-parade reception at DC’s Brixton pub, are another example of innovative business leaders who are championing LGBT rights in the workplace.
There’s no doubt that British businesses are leading the way for more LGBT-friendly workplaces. But there’s still a lot we can learn from each other – and do together.
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is internationally partnered with the UK Gay Business Association
and can help connect LGBT businesses on both sides of the pond. If you're interested in expanding your business to the UK or importing British goods, our dedicated staff in the UK Trade & Investment team can help you. With the lowest corporate tax rate in the advanced economies and the fastest growing economy in the G7, the UK is a great place to invest and do business.
And consumers are taking notice: research from Out Now's LGBT 2020 study, the largest global LGBT market research programme, shows that more than 10 million US consumers consider a country's equal rights for LGBT citizens as a major factor in deciding where to travel for vacation. It’s clear that respecting equality for all is good for tourism and good for business.
The British Government strongly believes that the promotion of business and respect for human rights should go hand in hand. So whether you’re waving a rainbow flag in your community, or supporting businesses that are a force for good, we hope you’ll join the UK as we march at Capital Pride
for a more prosperous and equal world for generations to come.