LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The global law firm Pinsent Masons has beaten the British MI5 security service and a Northern English fire department to be named the country's most friendly workplace for LGBT on Monday.
The leading LGBT + Stonewall rights charity, which awarded the award, said that Pinsent Masons introduced "a set of inclusive policies and practices for lesbian, gay and personal".
Nearly 450 companies competed to be recognized as the most inclusive employer of Great Britain LGBT, which was previously won by companies ranging from the banking giant Lloyds and the Gentoo housing association.
"As a company, we have an obligation to seek to promote progress where we feel we should do it," Richard Foley, a senior partner at Pinsent Masons, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Foley said that growing diversity is a "social and moral obligation" – both for individual companies and for the business world in general – and the best way to regain the trust of a skeptical and disengaged public.
"Corporations and the corporate world are responsible for regaining the trust we have lost at the time of the global financial crisis," he said.
Nearly 4 million people – or 6% of the population – in Britain identify themselves as LGBT + and surveys suggest that more diverse workplaces have a good business sense.
"When you say this stuff out loud, it's only seemingly obvious from a moral standpoint – or if you embrace it for a great sense of business," Foley said.
The London-based law firm, which employs over 3,000 worldwide, has launched "specific training of trans-inclusive staff to create a welcoming environment for colleagues, customers and visitors," Stonewall said in a statement.
Pinsent Masons runs offices in 13 countries including countries like Qatar and Singapore that still criminalize gay sex.
"If you go to a country, you can actually help promote progress," Foley said.
The company was part of a consortium of 29 people, including Santander bank and the professional services company Deloitte, which last year issued a declaration calling for marriage equality in Northern Ireland , which maintains the ban on gay marriage.
The company, which has 449 partners in 24 offices around the world, has also pronounced the gender pay gap in Britain.
Legislation that obliges companies with more than 250 employees to publish salary data converted into law in 2017, and the results show a persistent delay in the remuneration and promotion of women in the best positions.
However, while further investigations into the pay gap for black and ethnic minorities have been conducted, little information remains that gay or trans people are paid less – or more – than their heterosexual colleagues.
"We certainly should discuss this," Foley said.
However, he said that establishing a metric would be difficult since many people were not "out" at work. For example, Foley said he did not know the number of LGBT + partners in Pinsent Masons.
Thirty-five percent of British employees hide their sexual orientation at work, according to Stonewall.
Research by the Boston Consulting Group based on 4,000 employees in 12 countries found that only half of LGBT + employees were open to their sexuality.
The next three companies on Stonewall's annual list were Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, and MI5.
Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths and Emma Batha. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Thomson Reuters' charitable arm covering humanitarian news, women's rights and LGBT +, human trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org