Think Pieces

Representation matters – a blog from Crowe UK

If firms want to attract the best and brightest talent, it means employers must build a strong workplace culture of diversity and inclusion. At Crowe, we strive to foster and create an environment so people can bring their whole selves to work.

By Claire Ebrey · October 9, 2023

The adorning of rainbow flags during Pride Month reinforces not only the deep history of pioneering inclusivity and progressiveness of the LGBTQ+ movement in the UK, but the importance of how representation has a huge impact on our lives especially in the workplace.

For me and 40 of my colleagues, along with their friends and family, we were proud to be marching in solidarity at Manchester Pride in August. We were not just celebrating, diversity and inclusivity but also the culmination of the hard work we’ve done over the last few years at Crowe to create an inclusive community where LGBTQ+ people can flourish.

For decades, as Juergen Meier’s reflects, building an inclusive workplace that empowers employees takes time and goes hand in hand with wider changes to societal attitudes for LGBTQ+ people. In the UK, people have become increasingly more accepting as over nine in ten people state they are comfortable with a gay or bisexual man, or lesbian or bisexual woman, being their neighbour, manager, GP or Prime Minister.

Generation by generation, as Stonewall’s 2022 Rainbow Britain report shows, more of us feel comfortable in using lesbian, gay and bi labels to describe our sexual orientations with ‘Gen Z’ (35%) likely to be attracted to the same-sex or both sexes than Millennials (34%), Gen X (23%) and Baby Boomers (19%).

While obviously encouraging, Stonewall adeptly states in the same report: “the everyday experience of LGBTQ+ people and the place we have in society is not only about how large our community is; it is also about how visible and interconnected we are in wider society”.

Why allyship matters
Despite the progress made towards LGBTQ+ inclusivity, many people continue to face challenges in the workplace. It’s said that one third of our lives are spent at work, and yet according to Stonewall, more than one in three still have to hide their LGBTQ+ identity at work for fear of discrimination from colleagues and their employer – which is why, with the right policies in place, representation and visibility from top to bottom of an organisation matters.

“LGBTQ+ inclusion makes the workplace safer and happier for everyone”, says Stonewall, and we agree. As Nigel Bostock, Crowe UK’s Chief Executive explains in his video celebrating Pride Month in June, consciously being an ally helps drive the right environment and initiatives from the very top.

We are proud to have achieved a Bronze Award from Stonewall for being a leading LGBTQ+ inclusive employer, which is underpinned by having more than 100 LGBTQ+ champions and allies across all our offices, who strive to create a safe, inclusive workplace for our colleagues and further the goal of equality. Our initiatives and allyship help give people the opportunity to gain an understanding of issues faced by the community, empowering them to make positive change, while educating and challenging unconscious bias.

This isn’t just a tick box exercise for Crowe. The younger generation are more aware and accepting of the various gender identities, and identity in general, than some older generations. Recognising this helps retain and attract the best and the brightest talent, even becoming an important and decisive issue for candidates to ask during interviews.

Companies with LGBTQ-inclusive policies experience increases in employee commitment, more job satisfaction, better productivity, and overall, a friendlier workplace environment for all. Being LGBTQ-friendly helps firms develop intangibles related to stakeholder relations, and a firm’s reputation. And with the influence of social media and the power of modern communications, the word gets out!

According to the London School of Economics, there is also clear evidence suggesting firms with more LGBTQ-friendly policies benefit with better profitable and higher stock market valuations.

In my experience, as Tax Partner in the Private Client sector firms can benefit by working together to showcase its support for the LGBTQ+ community. Not only will it help drive more people from the community to work in our sector but, just as importantly, our clients seek trusted advisors. I have found that being open with my clients helps to create and build relationships quicker. Especially in working with LGBTQ+ clients, they need to feel reassured when choosing an advisor to look after their tax and financial affairs that they don’t feel it necessary to hide their true selves.

The bottom line: LGBTQ friendliness pays off. The decades of change mean workplaces are more inclusive and diverse than ever before; however, societal challenges still exist for LGTBQ+ community in the UK and across the world.

Visibility and inclusivity matters. Across gender, ethnicity, class, we are plumbers, teachers, engineers, siblings, parents, rugby coaches, and your accountant.


Mark Stemp

Private Client Tax Partner at Crowe, and Lead of the LGBTQ+ and Allies Network