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We can’t be Open without being allies

Debra Walton
Debra Walton
Chief Revenue Officer, Refinitiv

Imagine not being able to speak about your wife, husband or partner at work. Imagine keeping a photo of them hidden in your wallet, not proudly displayed on your desk as many of your colleagues do. Imagine going out with your partner for dinner, and nervously scanning the room when you enter to make sure no one from work sees you together. Until very recently, this was the reality of life for LGBT+ people in the corporate world. We’ve made great strides in recent years to change this, but there are still people who live every day feeling the need to hide who they are. This is why it’s critical for businesses to openly advocate for diversity and inclusion for all LGBT+ people.

At Refinitiv, one of our corporate values is being Open, and we actively encourage all of our team members to bring their whole selves to work. We see value in bringing together diversity of thoughts, experiences and opinions, and believe that this helps us to make better decisions as a business, and to build a better workplace for our colleagues. To me, our desire for openness underscores why it’s so critical for us to actively support our LGBT+ colleagues – how can we ask our people to be open if they feel they have to hide such an important part of themselves?

On a personal level, I want to work for an organization which is recognized as a great place to work for LGBT+ talent, because I’ve seen what can happen if people feel marginalized because of who they are. Many years ago, a very dear friend of mine in Sydney committed suicide because he struggled terribly with a lack of acceptance by his family of his homosexuality. I often think of him, and the tragedy of his life being cut short because of prejudice and discrimination over something that in reality was a beautiful part of who he was.

In recent years, I’ve experienced the joy of seeing my step-daughter marry a truly wonderful woman, her long-term college sweetheart. As they start their lives together, I look forward to them building a family, and being there to support them as a proud grandparent. I’m grateful to all those who worked on the issues of LGBT+ rights over many decades, committing time and energy to changing the local community so that these beautiful women felt accepted instead of ostracized. This is why I’ve become a global sponsor of our Refinitiv Prism Network, because I want to do everything I can to make sure that every one of our LGBT+ colleagues feels safe, supported and welcomed in our organization.  I want us all to be our best selves at work to enable all of us to deliver the best solutions to our clients.

Having been part of a company which takes active steps to create a diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone can be themselves, I’ve seen the positive effects of these policies on individuals, and on our business itself. Being proactive and known as an LGBT+ friendly workplace is critical to attracting and retaining top talent, and influences the buying decisions of our customers. Supporting and nurturing our LGBT+ people is also powerful way of creating strong and successful personal, professional and business networks that promote growth.

What does supporting LGBT+ colleagues mean in practice?  It means making LGBT+ inclusion part of our DNA; that is part of who we are as Refinitiv.  We will track outcomes for our people who define themselves as LGBT+ and we will set goals to address any disproportionate outcomes.  We will support leaders at all levels in our business to be LGBT+ inclusive and we will build strong allies populations to help us embed best practice in everything that we do.  As the senior sponsor of Refinitiv Prism Network, I will partner with the network chairs and members to drive continuous improvements, and we will continue to use this agenda to engage clients, influence sector-wide change and let our clients and talent know that we are LGBT+ inclusive and committed to this agenda.

We’ve made significant progress on LGBT+ rights in recent years, but there are still many countries in which we operate where being LGBT+ is still illegal or heavily stigmatized. While it may take time to change long-standing attitudes and prejudices, we are able play an important part in this change by proudly speaking about our shared values. By ensuring that our policies advocate for the rights of LGBT+ employees globally, we are creating workplaces that are safe and accepting of everyone and helping to shine a light on the importance of diversity in the workplace.  We are committed to this agenda and keen to partner with our clients and other key stakeholders to take a leading role.

I’m proud to be an ally and I’m proud to work for an organization which sees the value in making it possible for every member of our team to be open about who they are and to bring their whole selves to work every day.