Apr 02, 2011 1:17 AM GMT
Coming out of the closet can boost your career, according to new survey results from the Center for Work-Life Policy, a New York-based think tank.
About half of self-identifying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees are open about their preferences at work, according to the survey of 2,800 LGBT finance workers conducted by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, director of the Center for Work-Life Policy. Only a third of those who are not out are satisfied with the rate of advancement in their careers, compared with the almost-two thirds of those who are out who said they are satisfied.
The survey results were unveiled at the inaugural Out on the Street LGBT Leadership Summit Wednesday in New York.
A panel about LGBT culture on Wall Street concluded that the finance industry is making strides on LGBT inclusion, but there's still a long way to go. One panel member, Mark Stephanz, a vice chairman in the global financial sponsors group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said he chose to come out because "the amount of energy on expends on just hiding is incredible."
Sonelius Kendrick-Smith, a director in asset management at Deutsche Bank, said he was nervous about moving to the trading floor from his analyst position, but he got support from the head of fixed income who would stop by his desk from time to time. That "sent a message that I was a well-regarded employee," Kendrick-Smith said.
The panel generally agreed that employees in client-facing and front office positions have a tougher time coming out than their back-office counterparts, because there's more pressure generated from having to deal with more people everyday.
Once they come out, gay employees find that not all problems of workplace culture are solved. Innocent tasks become magnified -- going to the bathroom, for instance. Kendrick-Smith, and several members of the audience who raised their hands, said other men avoid them in the men's room.
"There's the assumption that every guy wants to check out another man," said Brian McNaught, the panel moderator.
Banks that don't create an environment conducive to being openly LGBT may suffer from brain drain, said Hewlett. Almost three-quarters of respondents who aren't out are more likely to leave the company within three years, according to the survey.
Walter Schubert, the first openly gay member of the New York Stock Exchange, said there's a moral imperative for gay senior executives to make themselves available to younger employees, both gay and straight, to answer questions.
The summit was convened by Deutsche Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and was hosted by Deutsche Bank's headquarters in New York.
Write to Julie Steinberg