15 consulting industry figures amongst those named LGBT+ role models

30 October 2017 Consultancy.uk 13 min. read

15 members of the global consulting industry have been named as top role models and allies of LGBT+ individuals in the business arena. The annual OUTstanding ranking of LGBT+ executives, allies and future leaders is aimed at promoting acceptance and diversity in the business environment, something which, in light of recent political trends, the organisers believe to be particularly pertinent now.

OUTstanding is an LGBT+ membership organisation for global businesses. It provides professional, peer‐to-peer connections for its members and helps businesses create diverse and inclusive work environments. To catalyse change, OUTstanding focuses on driving cultural change through authentic leadership. Each year, in partnership with the Financial Times, the network selects a shortlist of business leaders and upcoming industry stars to celebrate as role models for the LGBT+ community.

To be considered for a place on the list, role models had to be visibly out or a vocal ally, actively working to create an environment where LGBT+ people can bring their authentic selves to work. Nominees needed to be working towards this goal besides their regular day job, which excluded diverse professionals from consideration, no matter how deserving they were. To be classed as a Future Leader, nominees had to be high performing and high potential individuals at various levels in their careers. All of the 2017 Leading role models were nominated by peers and colleagues. Nominations were then reviewed by OUTstanding’s expert judging panel, with each person scored on the seniority and influence of their role, their impact on LGBT+ inclusion inside and outside the workplace, and their business achievements. Everyone included in the list has given their explicit permission to be included.

This year’s list saw Alan Joyce, CEO of Australian airline Qantas, top the Executives Role Model list in recognition of his work in supporting and promoting the Marriage Equality Campaign in Australia. He was joined by Campbell Soup Company President Denise Morrison, leader of the OUTstanding Leading Ally Executives List. The rankings notably saw their highest number of transgender Executives recognised in their five year history, increasing 60% on last year, with part of the transgender cohort, Stuart Barette, Global CMB IT Programme Manager at HSBC, being announced as the number one OUTstanding LGBT+ Future Leader. The exulted role models also hailed from a total of 18 countries, further improving the celebration’s diversity.

15 consulting industry figures amongst those celebrated as LGBT+ role models

Significantly improved diversity could see $12 trillion added to the global economy, with as many as 62% of all businesses setting objectives to those ends. Even so, there is still significant ground to be made before equality is realised in many workplaces. LGBT+ employees who are ‘in the closet’ are 70% more likely to leave the company within the first three years, while 85% of those responding to a survey of OUTstanding’s network of LGBT+ executives and their Allies said non-inclusive workplaces have a negative impact on employees and can damage productivity. Furthermore, a 2012 Human Rights Campaign study found that a staggering 62% of Generation Y LGBT+ graduates said that despite having been out at university, they returned to the closet when they started their first job. The promotion of diversity and inclusion therefore remains a key priority of 21st century businesses, from both business-orientated and ethical standpoints.

Commenting on the importance of celebrating LGBT+ business leaders, Suki Sandhu, OUTstanding Founder & CEO, said, “There is no doubt 2017 has been a difficult year for the LGBT+ cause. The backward rhetoric of [new US President] Trump and an increase in hate crimes recorded in the UK highlights the ongoing struggle of our community on the world stage. By continuing to be visible and by standing up together we can drive change, increase diversity and prove that being your authentic self at work is no barrier to business success.”

LGBT+ Executives 2017

The list also saw a total of 15 consulting industry names hailed as top executive LGBT+ leaders, executive allies and future leaders. This includes five of the top LGBT+ Executives list, three in the Ally Executives ranking, and seven for the Future Leaders list.

Ranking 9th in the list, Dr Siobhan Martin, an Executive Director in HR for Mercer’s UK & Ireland operations, has been key to the company’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) policies, also making herself available to other organisations who are working to ensure equality, going above and beyond to support LGBT+ causes outside her own organisation. She is the Global Chair of the Business Innovation work stream of Mercer’s global LGBT+ network, and created Mercer’s UK Diversity and Inclusion Council, UK D&I Advisory group and UK Champion network, including LGBT+ staff, having also introduced monitoring for LGBT+ hires at the firm. She is currently in the process of launching a self-identification campaign to better understand their workforce demographics.

Dr Siobhan Martin, Sander van’t Noordende, Elliot Vaughn, Moriaki Kida, Liesbeth Botha

Dr Martin was joined in the top 20 by Sander van’t Noordende sitting in 20th, who is a Group Chief Executive in Products for Accenture. As a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee and the Accenture Diversity Council, van’t Noordende personally ensures that LGBT+ inclusion remains a priority, while sponsoring the Pride at Accenture Network and the LGBT+ leadership training programme at the firm – a programme which has taken a new approach this year, in which all countries are evaluated on an LGBT+ progress scorecard, dramatically increasing visibility of progress and the commitment of senior Accenture leadership on the ground. Meanwhile, representing the Boston Consulting Group, Partner Elliot Vaughn ranked 36th on the list of 100. Also a sponsor of various LGBT+ organisations, Vaughn serves on the global leadership of BCG’s LGBT+ network and hosts, regularly speaking at internal events, including delivering the keynote address at Pride in the City.

In 54th position on the list, Tokyo-based Moriaki Kida is the Deputy Area Managing Partner for EY in the region. Kida established the LGBT ERG in Tokyo, which led to the successful hiring of the first openly LGBT staff member in the Japan office. He is a regular mentor to ERG members from London, and has spoken at EY events on the difficulties of coming out as an LGBT employee in a professional environment in Japan. When in Japan, he became the official “Unity” (LGBT ERG) sponsor and the executive leader. Fellow Big Four firm PwC also had a member of their staff commended in the category, with Strategic Digital Transformation Leader Liesbeth Botha listed in 67th. The co-founder and sponsoring partner for the PwC Be Yourself network in South Africa – who work to raise awareness via social events, and network with similar outside organisations, striving to create an inclusive workplace, where staff can truly “be themselves” –has been married to her wife for 10 years, since gay marriages were legalised in South Africa, and believes that being open about this allows her to be a role model to anybody who is different.

Ally Executives

In the Top 50 Ally Executives list, meanwhile, Accenture had an employee recognised for their efforts once more. Rekha M. Menon, listed 8th, is Chairman and Senior Managing Director of Accenture India. Under Menon’s leadership, Accenture in India has maintained a position as a corporate leader in the supporting of the LGBT+ community. Menon is focused on providing equal opportunities for recruitment, career progression, professional development and benefits, and creating an inclusive work environment where their people feel comfortable, respected and safe, which the firm strives for by celebrating the LGBT+ community, including allies, at internal and external events, and hosting gender-neutral restrooms in their facilities, having recently added gender re-assignment surgery to their medical insurance policy to support Transgender employees.

In 12th, James Harris, the Managing Director of Mott MacDonald’s UK & European division is the business’ representative for its Advance committee, an employee network tasked with embedding equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the company. In his role as the leader of the UK and European business, he provides visible leadership and sets the general direction of the business, having recently steered the company to collaborate with InterEngineering to create video profiles of LGBT+ engineers, to raise visibility and show other LGBT engineers that sexuality or gender identity are no barrier to a career in engineering.

Rekha M. Menon, James Harris and Sharon Thorne

Big Four consultancy Deloitte’s Deputy CEO and Managing Partner, Global & Strategy for Deloitte North West Europe, Sharon Thorne, meanwhile makes the list in 36th place. Thorne, who has mentored a number of LGBT+ employees and supported a trans employee through the process of coming out at work in 2015, is a senior visible sponsor for Gay & Lesbian Organisation of Business & Enterprise (GLOBE), which she helped to launch. During her stint as the Partner responsible for Talent on the Deloitte Executive, she launched the firm’s diversity networks in 2007.

LGBT+ Future Leaders

Daniel Ricard, EMEA Human Capital Project Manager, was the second PwC staffer to make this year’s list. In 8th on the ranking, Ricard is the co-leader of the GLEE@PwC UK Network. Daniel is a visible role model in the firm and works hard to promote and showcase role models from various minority backgrounds – another key area of improvement for the firm, which published its 13% ethnicity pay-gap details earlier this year. Ricard also secured funding from their UK Chairman to sponsor Pride in London 2017 for the first time and successfully delivered 50+ activities, managing a team of 30+ volunteers nationally, to activate their sponsorship and engage staff. Additionally, he actively manages the firm’s OUTstanding membership and is deputy chair of OUTstanding’s Events committee.

Following close behind in 9th, Anjeli Patel is a Senior Consultant in People Advisory Services at EY. Patel has led trans issues at EY and, with the support of the LGBT+ network Unity, was involved in contributing to an internal gender identity and transition policy. She was also consulted around inclusive toilets in their offices, and has organised several events to discuss trans issues in the workplace. Patel is joined by fellow EY Senior Consultant Asako Kawamura, in 19th. As the Japan leader of EY Unity, Asako was instrumental in EY’s involvement at Tokyo Pride, with the support of the D&I team. Asako also shared Unity’s strategy and initiatives as a best practice at IBM Japan’s Ally forum in 2017, was recognised by EY’s “Better Begins With You” peer-based global award program, becoming one of 12 regional finalists.

Daniel Ricard, Anjeli Patel, Asako Kawamura, Peter Foley, Isabella Bardswell, Samantha Jayne Nelson, Cortland Russell

Rounding off the top 10, Peter Foley, a Senior Associate at Mercer, leads the firm’s Australian LGBT+ inclusion group where he has created a dedicated steering committee of ten members with various defined roles over the past year, responsibilities and success measures. Under his leadership, they have improved workplace inclusivity for LGBT+ colleagues, and successfully obtained the HR sign off for additional leave provisions for colleagues transitioning in the workplace, along with penning a  new policy guidance for colleagues considering transitioning. Foley is joined by Isabella Bardswell (31st) the Head of European Agile Centre of Excellence, and an Associate Partner at IBM. Bardswell is a visible and proud role model in the workplace and beyond. She is particularly committed to building more diverse and inclusive work environments.  She champions diversity in many ways, including the reverse mentoring senior executives in IBM to challenge and improve upon previous biases in management. This year, she also led the transformation of Big Blue’s Ally scheme through the launch of the 365 Ally LGBT+ Programme, which now leverages gamification to achieve deeper and broader levels of engagement, and to motivate people to change their behaviours.

Samantha Jayne Nelson, a Risk Engineer at Marsh, sits 32nd in the list. Vice President Risk Engineer in the firm’s Global Energy Practice, Nelson is also the Executive director of the UK based Trans*formation. By openly and honestly sharing the story of her extraordinary journey, transitioning in the male-dominated workplace of oil rigs, she hopes to serve as a Champion for Diversity, with her visibility and passion for engagement also seeing her participate in parent group Marsh McLennan Companies’ Global Colleague Resource Group leadership summit in New York. She has also featured in publications associated with the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, and her work was recognised by the British LGBT+ awards this year, when she was awarded the UK Diversity Champion title.

Completing the consulting presence in OUTstanding’s lists, Cortland Russell, Southeast US Program and Operations Manager at Accenture, is ranked 40th. Russell was commended by the organisation for making large strides for Accenture’s Global LGBT Program across transgender and non-binary inclusion, cross-company employee resource group (ERG) collaboration, and international growth of their Pride programs, over the course of a single year. He also helped grow the network in more challenging markets across ASEAN and Eastern Europe. Outside of Accenture, he is President & CEO of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM) – a non-profit professional society focused on LGBT+ people in the STEM community, and regularly volunteers with HRC Atlanta and Lost-n-Found Youth – an organisation aimed at aiding LGBT+ homeless youth.