Toward a More LGBT-Inclusive C-suite

Toward a More LGBT-Inclusive C-suite

John Browne, the former BP PLC chief executive officer, is coming out of the closet about coming out of the closet in the business world. In a recent post for Fortune, Browne explains how in his 40-year career at the company, people assumed he was a straight, unmarried man, and he didn’t correct the damaging assumption because he was scared of the consequences. Browne had spent 18 months collecting interviews for a new book, The Glass Closet (Harper Collins, 2014), and has some tips about how the straight majority can make corporate America more inclusive for the LGBT minority.

  • Send the Message From the Top Down: “No matter how diverse and open an organization might be, leaders should not underestimate the importance of simply talking about LGBT inclusion,” says Browne. Straight leaders should be sure to talk openly about inclusive policies and set the tone during meetings, speeches and in corporate communications.
  • Implement Policies: It’s important to put it in writing, and policies need to be implemented to ensure equality. One such example would be to grant company health-care benefits to same-sex partners, which Browne notes a third of Fortune 500 companies fail to do.
  • Be an Ally: Create programming in which both straight and LGBT employees can support an inclusive workplace, suggests Browne. Allies programs “are simply a way for straight people to signal their support for LGBT colleagues, and to learn how best to make those colleagues feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.”
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