As the US Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is a right across the United States, the IoD has raised the rainbow flag at its London headquarters in support of Pride in London events taking place around the capital this week
Saturday’s Pride march through the capital is routed past the IoD’s prestigious home at 116 Pall Mall. The mast usually hosts a black-and-white flag featuring the IoD’s iconic logo over the entrance to the building.
Simon Walker, director general at the Institute of Directors, said: “The IoD is committed to equality, and we are delighted to be able to show our support for London Pride. In our own work, we have been long-time champions of diversity in the business world. It is fantastic to see so many organisations across the capital lend their voices to the campaign, and we are proud to be one of them.”
Last year, Director magazine, which is published by the IoD, featured former BP chief executive Lord Browne on its cover. In the five-page interview, Browne, who resigned from the oil giant in 2007 after the media revealed his sexuality, spoke of his experience and attitudes towards diversity in business.
On facing a press scrum that had formed outside BP’s prestigious St James’s Square headquarters, Browne said: “My overwhelming desire to conceal my sexual orientation over four decades in the oil industry had culminated in this terrible juncture. My long-kept secret was about to be exposed and I was not going to hide any longer. I decided that I would leave through the front door.
“My worst fear was that I’d lose all my friends, I’d lose everybody,” he said. “And that turned out not to be the case. A lot of people rather publicly supported me and they still remain my friends.”
Browne, a partner at Riverstone Holdings – a private equity firm investing in the energy sector – last year wrote The Glass Closet: Why coming out is good for business. While conducting research for the book, he admitted he was surprised at how many people in the UK and US were still fearful of being themselves at work: “They were, in a variety of ways, saying ‘we can’t come out in business because our peers will treat us differently, they’ll think it’s a weakness – clients and boards are very conservative and they won’t like it if we’re different’,” he said. “I found that surprising, because I thought I’d come from a different generation and that things had changed a lot.
“I still think without a doubt that there are plenty of leaders in the closet… But business does move slowly in its acceptance of difference – you can see that with women in business. We’ve been working at diversity and getting women included for some time, but the outcome is not as good as you could expect by any means. LGBT inclusion is the next most difficult thing to do – I think that’s where we are at the moment and we’re ready for a breakthrough.”
Read Director magazine’s full interview with Lord Browne here.