Ernst & Young is top gay employer

Stonewall's top 100 employers list has named the accountancy firm as its number one place to work. A sign that LGBT issues are now officially mainstream?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 10 Dec 2014
Lesbian, gay and bisexual rights group Stonewall has released its Top 100 Employers list today – and top of the pops is none other than accountancy firm Ernst & Young. Which suggests that LGBT inclusiveness has become an issue so mainstream that even a bunch of suit-wearing, briefcase-toting maths boffins are doing their level best to get involved.

Among other winners were Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Accenture and IBM: not bad, considering that, according to Stonewall, the criteria this year was the toughest it’s ever been. Not only was every employer in the top 100 required to have sexual orientation explicitly mentioned in their non-discrimination policy, but they had to have a team responsible for LGBT concerns (E&Y’s is, rather sweetly, called ‘EYGLES’, while Morgan Stanley’s is called ‘GLEAMS’).

Crucially, they also need to be able to demonstrate that there’s no ‘pink plateau’ – ie. have openly gay staff at the top of the company’: apparently, three in five of the top 100 employers have an ‘out’ member of the LGBT community among their senior leadership team. Morgan Stanley even introduced a ‘reverse mentoring’ scheme, where junior staff coached their senior colleagues in order to ‘build open communication and personal relationships’. Gold star. Although we’re not convinced about E&Y’s ‘Values Award system’, which provides ‘on-the-spot extra awards for any staff members who demonstrate a strong commitment to living the firm’s values’. Cue cringe-inducing groups appearing doing a jazzed-up rendition of the E&Y corporate song

But considering that even the nation’s tabloids are (admittedly grudgingly) beginning to accept issues like gay marriage; in this day and age, why does this even matter? Well, as Stonewall’s CEO, Ben Summerskill pointed out, ‘the Index remains a powerful tool used by Britain’s 1.7m gay employees and 150,000 gay university students to decide where to take their talent and skills.’ Put like that, why wouldn’t businesses want to get involved?

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