Baillie Gifford’s LGBT Network discusses its aims to encourage conversation and engagement with regards to LGBT inclusion.
Tell us about the LGBT network
The idea for a Baillie Gifford Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) network came from our membership with Stonewall. The charity hosted a lunch and learn session in the office, where they talked about the benefits of staff-driven networks in supporting the LGBT community. It struck us as something the firm would benefit from, and so the network was set up late last year.
The network has 25 active members including two co-chairs and a partner who acts as the network sponsor. Although there are defined roles within the network, it is very much driven from the bottom up, by staff; for staff.
What are your main objectives?
We believe that regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity everyone should feel comfortable being themselves at work. With this in mind, our aim is to support an inclusive culture and open working environment, which demands respect for all employees.
The network was particularly struck by the statistic that 62% of graduates go back into the closet when they enter the job market. We don’t want this to be the case at Baillie Gifford and we hope that the network can help build communications channels and offer peer-support to those who need it. In other words, we want the network to be an active forum through which LGBT staff members can have their voices heard.
We believe that regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity everyone should feel comfortable being themselves at work.
What initiatives has the network been involved with?
Since we launched the network, we’ve attended Edinburgh Pride and encouraged colleagues to wear rainbow lanyards. We have supported the Stonewall Scotland education conference as well as organising internal firm-wide events around important dates such as World Aids Day.
By hosting external speakers and sharing internal updates, our aim has been to raise awareness and educate staff. We recently celebrated the Network’s first anniversary and we have been impressed by how engaged staff have been.
How do you hope the network will develop in the future?
Engagement is really important to us; we want to start a conversation and ensure people feel that they can join in. You should feel comfortable discussing these issues in the workplace and most importantly not be afraid to ask questions. We hope that the structure of the network will allow a wider group of employees to contribute. Whilst this is an LGBT network, everyone is welcome to join the network and get involved regardless of sexuality.
Working alongside Stonewall ensures that we can bridge our own knowledge gaps. The network is committed to continually learning and listening so we can offer support and speak up when required. We also aim to offer a confidential peer-support programme, allowing staff members the opportunity to talk to a trusted and trained ally if need be.