With the spring semester and graduation fast approaching, college students across America wonder if they will secure a job once they receive their degrees. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, the question arises of whether or not they should be “out” on their resume and highlight their experience as leaders for LGBT organizations.
The question: Does being “out” help in a job search?
As companies across the United States and around the world continue to make progress in their internal and external policies relating to the LGBT community, being “out” can provide strategic advantages. Companies understand the need to recruit a diverse talent base.
As companies continue to recruit younger people and members of the LGBT community, students should feel safe to highlight their professional LGBT involvement. Whether it is through an internship or leadership position, companies want to see candidates who are both comfortable with their identity and demonstrate initiative.
Over the past 10 years the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest organization advocating for LGBT equality, has published the Corporate Equality Index, analyzing how U.S. businesses treat LGBT employees. In their 2013 publication, HRC notes that 80% of the rated businesses (which includes Fortune 500 companies) engage publicly with the LGBT community through recruitment and other efforts.
Companies across the United States are placing increasing emphasis on recruiting top LGBT candidates and increasing their visibility within the LGBT community. Out on the Street, an organization created to advance LGBT equality in the workplace and beyond in global financial services, is an example of these corporations dedicated to building diverse leadership.
Out on the Street is made up of 11 companies among the largest in global financial services: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, KKR, KPMG, Morgan Stanley and UBS. Founded in 2010 by Todd Sears, a former banker and strategic diversity consultant, the existence of Out on the Street itself demonstrates how much companies have changed in the past decade. In contrast to its reputation as a bastion of the “good old boy network,” financial services companies are at the forefront of support for LGBT employees.
Senior executives who have spoken at the Out on the Street conferences typify this transformation.
At Out on the Street 2012: Europe, on the importance of recruiting LGBT individuals, Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, Bank of America Merrill Lynch President for Europe and Emerging Markets said, “We believe that creating a diverse, inclusive workforce where we can bring people from all backgrounds together produces a more dynamic, innovative and ultimately successful team.”
Wilmot-Sitwell’s statement clearly exemplifies the fact that companies are creating a targeted effort to increase their diversity. Further, corporations, like Bank of America, are placing strong emphasis on the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce, especially among college recruits.
Participation and support from senior executives at the Out on the Street conference goes a long way in demonstrating to current and potential employees how far global corporations, financial services specifically, have come.
Out on the Street: Europe — the first international expansion of Out on the Street outside of the United States — brought together more than 200 senior leaders from across Europe on Nov. 13, 2012 in London, including Lord Browne, former CEO of BP, James Leigh-Pemberton, CEO United Kingdom of Credit Suisse and John Haley, CEO of Towers Watson. Previous summits in the United States included keynotes from Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs and Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
These leaders convey a unified message: Companies that create inclusive workplaces for LGBT people benefit from ability to recruit top talent from the best universities who bring diverse perspectives on market opportunities and business development.
In essence, corporations understand the need to recruit LGBT students in order to create a diverse workforce that exemplifies the very diversity of their clients.
Lord Browne echoed that lesson, asserting: “… No one should underestimate the impact of having successful and openly gay people working at companies…”
Companies across America, like the member organizations from Out on the Street, are also going beyond statements of support to tangible actions and initiatives, especially when it comes to young professionals. This year, the member organizations of Out on the Street will launch an Emerging Leaders program, which identifies up-and-coming LGBT leaders within companies and connects them to senior leadership at the organization. Such a program shows young professionals and students that corporate America is endeavoring to create inclusive leadership for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Major corporations and organizations such as Out on the Street continue to demonstrate for students the benefits of being “out” on your resume and in a job search. The fact is the world has changed, and so has corporate America. LGBT students should not assume that they need to go back into the closet during their job search.
In fact, the passion and drive they bring to advancing LGBT organizations and causes are exactly the qualities that employers are looking for today.
For more information about Out on the Street and Coda Leadership, please visit www.codaleadership.com.
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