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Strengthening a Culture of Inclusion and Belonging

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By Sarah Mears, Chief Human Resources Officer

When I think about what Pride Month means, and the challenges that the LGBTQ+ communities globally continue to face, I always come back to the words “kindness” and “respect.”

As a global company, we pay close attention to legislation that protects our LGBTQ+ colleagues as well as laws that target and would severely limit their ability to live and love how they choose. The new anti-LGBTQ+ law in Uganda, complete with a capital punishment provision, is just the most recent example of attacks on what are basic human rights.  

While we acknowledge that people may have deeply held personal views on this subject, we believe it’s even more important to make absolutely clear in our workplaces everywhere that it’s never appropriate to make hurtful comments or disparaging judgments about colleagues.

In fact, we demand that all our colleagues be treated with kindness and respect. Since 2019, increasing LGBTQ+ awareness has been one of the three pillars—along with Gender and Mental Health and Wellness—of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) program. Through a variety of initiatives, we’ve created a warm and open community where colleagues have a sense of belonging and know they are respected, supported and empowered to do their best work in a psychologically safe space.

For example, we celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride each year by participating in parades and events in locations including Cyprus, Dublin, Halifax, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Those locations not taking part in the parades ensure Pride is celebrated and supported locally. Through “The Inclusive You” program, we’ve raised awareness on active allyship, LGBTQ+ inclusion, uncovering bias and disability awareness, as well as Inclusion for Commercial Success for leaders and colleagues. Our growing LGBTQ+ Media Club, hosted by a member of our executive team, meets quarterly to highlight diverse perspectives and experiences in books, film and other media and discuss challenges the LGBTQ+ community face.  

By focusing on education, we create a stronger company that promotes understanding and respect for everyone. We’ve found that encouraging open conversations where colleagues can ask questions based on curiosity, rather than being judgmental, helps to create an environment where people have fun learning from each other. And we know that small gestures can have a significant impact promoting a diverse and inclusive culture, which is why we encourage all our colleagues to include preferred pronouns in their email signatures.

While we always begin by focusing on our colleagues as people, I believe it’s also critical to recognize that diverse and inclusive firms are the most successful—financially and from a performance standpoint. Our DEI work helps us to develop deeper, more effective relationships and partnerships with colleagues and clients alike.

We are living in challenging times and I’m proud to work for a firm that shares my belief in enabling all our colleagues to bring their authentic, full selves to work every day.  Our commitment to our LGBTQ+ colleagues is year-round, and our philosophy underpinning all this work centers on kindness and respect.