With Jake Daniels, the Blackpool footballer, recently coming out; and with us being in PRIDE Month, we wanted to look at LGBTQIA+ representation on UK Boards. This is quite a difficult thing to measure as it fundamentally requires individuals to feel that their professional environment is inclusive enough for them to feel comfortable coming out. However, with the UK now 14th in the ILGA Rainbow Europe's rankings, scoring just 53 out of a possible 100 (having previously led the table in 2015)
 due to our lack of reform on conversion practices, gender recognition and U-turn on Trans rights, this does seem increasingly less likely.
Over the years, Boards have been challenged by targets and reviews in order to increase their diversity demographics, yet so far, sexuality appears to be neglected.
In 2019, the Office for National Statistics estimated that 2.7% of the UK population over sixteen identify as Lesbian, Gay or Bi (LGB)
and this group are potentially one of the most underrepresented groups on Boards. Now I say potentially because there is actually no authoritative data to rely on here in the UK. However, according to a report by Out Leadership
, in the US, just 26 out of the 5,670 board positions in the Fortune 500 are held by directors who openly identify as LGBTQ+, that’s 0.4%. Could it be similar in the UK?
Of course, it may come down to culture and whether the US have a more inclusive culture than the UK (perhaps a question to explore in a lot more depth another time!).
As we’ve often discussed here, an abundance of literature can be found exploring the lack of ethnic minority representation and the gender disparity on Boards, for example, The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2022) noting that 39.10% of women hold a Board position at FTSE 100 level
and the findings from the Parker Review (2021) noting that c.16% of ethnically diverse directors hold a FTSE 100 board position
. Though active accountability of gender and ethnicity demographics is a move to champion, it does highlight a glaring oversight of the LGBTQIA+ community on Boards.
In an article for Fortune back in 2016
, former CEO of BP, Lord John Browne stated that “getting LGBT inclusion right…is the leading indicator to demonstrate that you’re doing the right thing with women, the right thing with different nationalities, with race, with colour. I believe that because it requires you to be curiously inclusive before people will disclose who they are – it’s a very high order of achievement.”
Along with the fact that we know an inclusive culture has a positive impact on an individual’s wellbeing, there is also further evidence to suggest that expanding the inclusion and making people feel that they can bring their true and authentic self to work is, as always, good for business. According to the Gaytimes
, Finnish researchers from Aalto University School of Business and the University of Vaasa analysed the financial performance of 657 stock market-listed U.S. companies between 2003 and 2016 and found that “LGBT-friendly” firms were both more profitable and worth more.
We still have a little way to go with this one but, we stand with, and for the LGBTQIA+ community.
See you at London Pride next month!
Ones to Watch
Yorath Turner, Head of Digital Capability & Talent at The Scottish Government – Chair at LGBT Health & Wellbeing
Erik Tomlin, Senior Coordinator in Music and Media Licensing at Viacom - Chair and Trustee of the London Gay Symphonic Winds
David Pearson is Director, Global Inclusion & Diversity, at KPMG, with a background in KPMG’s Corporate Finance practice. - Trustee of ELOP LGBT Mental Health & Wellbeing,
Lisa Pinney MBE, Coal Authority - Chair of Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust
Pedro Pina VP, Head of YouTube Europe, Middle East and Africa - Board Member of OutRight Action International, an Advisory Member for the Outvertising Council in the UK and a member of the Corporate Advisory Board of the Victoria & Albert Museum of Art
Jim Ford, Partner Allen & Overy LLP - Trustee for the charity Diversity Role Models
Geffrye Parsons, Managing Director Macquarie Group - Trustee of two LGBTQ+ charities, GiveOut and Diversity Role Models