LGBT and diversity – A corporate example

To understand how LGBT inclusion features in into a Diversity & Inclusion strategy we asked our corporate Partners Northern Trust to give us an insight as to what they are doing …

Northern Trust is a global financial services firm, employing 18,000 people across the globe. We work hard to ensure that we provide an inclusive and actively welcoming environment for all employees.

As part of our D&I strategy we focus on five key areas of diversity. LGBT inclusion features as one of these as well as gender balance, multicultural, multi-generational, and ability / wellbeing.

Northern Trust has been committed to LGBT inclusion for many years, in 1998, we began to offer domestic partners benefits to both opposite sex, and same sex couples in the US15 years before the federal government approved equal marriage. The past 18 months has seen a new, innovative phase to our LGBT inclusion work, with some really exciting activity happening across the EMEA region.

Role modelling

We have focused on building up a group of core LGBT role models and allies – an ally is someone who is not LGBT themselves, but believes in equality for LGBT people. To empower these groups we held one day leadership programmes in collaboration with Stonewall. Stonewall are an LGBT charity who work with over 800 organisations, advising them on LGBT inclusion. The Stonewall programmes were available to employees across EMEA and focused on helping people to overcome both personal and environmental barriers to stepping up as visible role models at Northern Trust.

This was really important as a foundation to build upon. Being LGBT is something that is invisible and you have to ‘come out’ for others to be aware of it. Programmes like these help to create an active dialogue about something that so often goes under the radar.

Many of the employees who attended these programmes are now part of our internal LGBT & Allies Business Resource Council. These groups set about delivering an engaging programme of education for employees at Northern Trust. The groups ran sessions on a wide range of topics including Bi visibility, LGBT and religion, LGBT families and being LGBT in the military.

Workplace equality

Next we worked with Stonewall through their workplace equality index, to identify what we need to do to make progress on LGBT inclusion. Feedback from Stonewall helped us provide very tangible actions to senior management on how they can help move the conversation forward.

We have now launched an allies programme, which is open to all employees. Employees who sign up attend a training session on how to be an ally where they receive guidance on how they can be an active ally at the company. As well as this they receive a rainbow flag for their desk and pin badges so that they can be visible allies.

Reverse mentoring

Northern Trust’s board is now also engaged in a reverse mentoring programme. The programme, pairs senior executives, with staff who are members of the LGBT community. The senior executives are the mentees in this scenario. The sessions they have with LGBT staff, are designed to help the execs understand the experiences of our LGBT staff.

Next steps

Our next step is to show our support externally to the LGBT community. This year employees will be representing Northern Trust by marching in Pride events in Dublin and London. It’s important for us to be visible to the world on this issue, as only active support can show the world that we are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce.


Thank you to Northern Trust for this article.  Parental Choice are working with Northern Trust in the UK and APAC to support the wellbeing of their employees.


“We’re delighted to be partnering with Parental Choice to offer our employees at Northern Trust in London a helping hand through their childcare search services and by offering a host of interesting seminars to help our employees with children manage their childcare responsibilities alongside their careers.   

How Parental Choice can help

Parental Choice’s working life solutions help D&I professionals achieve their objectives in relation to female talent retention, creating diverse workplaces and closing the gender pay gap. 

We do this by helping you to support your employees emotionally and physically with our wellbeing programmes and searches for childcare and eldercare.

If you want to make a real difference to your business get in touch to see how we can help.  |  +44 20 8979 6453

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