Promoting LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Today – and Every Day
International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) is recognized annually on May 17. This marks the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.
IDAHOBIT raises awareness of the importance to combat LGBTQ+ discrimination. To commemorate this day, LGBTQ+ colleagues share their stories – their concerns when considering to come out, how the firm’s inclusive environment has supported them in different ways and advice for allies.
What are your concerns when considering to disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity to people around you?
Reetika Raj | Analyst, Human Capital Management, Bengaluru
"Realizing your sexual orientation and accepting it is a very personal journey every queer individual must chart on their own. It took me two years to complete this pivotal step before I came out to my friends, colleagues and family members. Something I’ve realized over the years is that accepting myself was a one-time thing, but coming out to different people remains a lifelong process. My biggest concern when sharing this part of my identity with people is their immediate reaction or intrusive line of questioning. The best reaction I’ve received to coming out is – no reaction at all!"
Verdhan Shah | Vice President, Internal Audit, London
"You never know how people will react. I’ve been lucky to have a generally positive experience in telling people I’m gay, but I still get slightly nervous that their approach to interacting with me may change. The words still get stuck in my throat sometimes."
How have the firm’s policies, initiatives and culture supported you to be your authentic self at work?
Chad White | Analyst, Global Markets, New York
"Not many colleagues know this, but in the fall of 2020 I was attacked by a stranger for being gay near Stone Street in New York City. I had never faced a situation like this and was not prepared for the impact of the attack. My first reaction following the incident was worried that my team or the firm would find out, which escalated when footage of the attack was leaked to the press and broadcast on the news. The firm was my biggest support in healing, feeling safe and navigating the situation. Senior leaders in HCM and across the firm reached out personally to make sure I was okay, and security and Employee Relations took the time to make sure I felt safe inside and outside the office, and provided countless resources. This situation changed my outlook on how to be an ally to others and be proud of who I am, and gave me confidence that Goldman Sachs values me both in and outside the office."
Leonore Vehmeijer | Associate, Asset Management, London
"The firm’s continuous positive emphasis on an inclusive culture, through trainings, sessions and communities has supported me to feel free to express my sexual orientation – not only decreasing the fear of dismissal by others, but also providing non-LGBTQ+ colleagues to ask questions in a safe space."
What advice do you have for colleagues who are looking to serve as effective allies?
Harriet Bull | Vice President, Global Markets, Hong Kong
"Be as visible as possible. The responsibility always falls on LGBTQ+ people to stand up for ourselves and educate the people around us – when I talk about LGBTQ+ issues, it’s expected, but when a straight ally is vocal about these things on the floor, more people stop to take note. Sometimes our allies are in the best position to advocate and effect change."
Takuma Tanaka | Vice President, Asset Management, Singapore
"Ask lots of questions and listen to what LGBTQ+ colleagues have to say. Our experiences, our traumas and our battles have made us stronger, and I hope that can be heard and understood by our allies."