June 30, 2020 | Inside Thomson Reuters
Leading with Pride
Just a new guy in a new town…
When I moved from the UK to Hong Kong in January 2008, I went from being out at the office to being one foot in and one foot out of the closet. I was out to my boss and my peers on the leadership team, but not to my direct reports or the wider Hong Kong office. I didn’t know how accepting Hong Kong would be – whether it was OK to be gay in the office. Would it undermine my position as a leader, or would it be seen as unacceptable?
I had this perception of Hong Kong and Chinese culture being extremely conservative. But as I got to know the team and what they stood for, I started to be more myself … more authentic. They have been and continue to be an amazing, diverse, and talented group of people, and frankly at the beginning, I don’t think I gave them enough credit.
So what changed?
My thinking started to change when we did values and culture training in Hong Kong, and I realized our diversity was one of our biggest strengths. Still, it was more than eight years in Hong Kong before I started to up my game in terms of championing LGBT+ inclusion at Thomson Reuters.
In 2016, I got involved in our partnership with Stonewall to launch the Global Workplace Briefings in Hong Kong (guides to the legal framework related to LGBT+ rights across the world). Working with our regional D&I lead, we held our first substantial customer event, with over 70 customers and colleagues attending, and including an international panel discussion (with Stonewall on VC from London). We also held internal events.
The following year we’d earned the Silver Standard in the Community Business Hong Kong LGBT+ Inclusion Index and were ranked 23rd in Hong Kong, not bad for 3-4 months’ work and a robust set of policies. Maybe my pride got the better of me, but I remember thinking to myself “Silver ain’t good enough... we can, should and must do better.”
Being included in an LGBT+ Leadership course in London in 2017, organized by Thomson Reuters, Stonewall, and Barclays, gave me new insight. I learned about the challenges for transgender colleagues and I learned a lot about being an authentic leader and how this could help me be a more effective role model. I took this back to Hong Kong with a renewed sense that I could make a bigger difference.
We focused on leadership engagement, external customer partnership, and events through sponsorship of the Out Leadership Asia Summit, rolling out Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression training, and inviting our customers to participate. We increased our external profile by becoming a supporting organization for the Hong Kong Gay And Lesbian Attorney’s network (HKGALA), enabling them with sponsorship at Thomson Reuters Asian Legal Business events, to help raise their profile. We also published their content on Westlaw Asia and ProView.
All these activities helped us over the years to build our profile and drive inclusion in our organization, and our work was externally recognized. Thomson Reuters was awarded the LGBT+ Newcomer Award at the Community Business Hong Kong LGBT+ Inclusion Awards in 2018, and in 2019 I was awarded the Community Business Hong Kong LGBT+ Inclusion Champion Award. Thomson Reuters rose through the ranks from Silver to Gold (ranked fifth overall in Hong Kong) and punching way above our weight.
We also rolled out two global TR social media campaigns, ‘Pride is the Answer’ and ‘Connect with Pride,’ and began to hold diversity and inclusion events at our Asia & Emerging Markets Sales Conference.
Awards are amazing recognition for our efforts and important to let people know that it is ok to be yourself at Thomson Reuters. However, we can’t just assume our results are this tangibly measurable. For me, the results to measure are in our culture, in the number of people who want to work at Thomson Reuters and their reasons for wanting to work here. It’s about our employee retention rates, and our scores in our engagement surveys about D&I. It’s about the quality of the relationships we build with our customers at a senior level that demonstrate our shared values. It’s how we are perceived by the market, by customers, and by our people.
I am proud to have contributed to the Thomson Reuters LGBT+ inclusion story, and I’d encourage anyone looking to make a difference in our workplace, in the office or virtually, to get involved in our Diversity & Inclusion efforts, and to #ConnectWithPride, and see how your allyship can make a difference to your LGBT+ colleagues.
Thank you all for your allyship. Happy Pride Month!
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