Wall Street Leading On Gay-Friendly Policies

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Financial firms are increasingly open to supporting gay and lesbian employees regarding workplace and family issues. In fact, the advocacy group Human Rights Campaign says the industry leads U.S. businesses in being gay-friendly.

According to Bloomberg, 19 financial firms scored 100 percent in HRC's most recent survey on policies that treated gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered employees equally with others. In 2002, only one company, JPMorgan, got such scores. Bear Stearns didn't participate in the survey, and so was the only one of the top five Wall Street firms to not score 100, Bloomberg said.

Daryl Herrschaft, director of HRC's Workplace Project, said, "The banking and financial services industry has moved well out in front of the others."

In the last few years, the financial business has been moving - some would say slowly but steadily - toward building a diverse workforce. Given the competition for talent, it's no surprise the gay community is among its targets. Not only have firms been recruiting and retaining gay employees, they've become more aggressive in reaching out to gay business school students, as well

Earlier this year, BusinessWeek noted the gay community's increasing economic clout: In 2006, its buying power equaled $641 billion, and nearly 70 percent of gay people are "fiercely loyal to companies with progressive work policies," the magazine said.

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