BT, IBM help firms address gay issues

Law firms grappling with how to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff in jurisdictions where homosexuality is ­illegal or taboo can learn from organisations with greater international experience.


BT, IBM help firms address gay issuesLaw firms grappling with how to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff in jurisdictions where homosexuality is ­illegal or taboo can learn from organisations with greater international experience, a major diversity event heard last week.

Representatives from BT Global Services, IBM and the Royal Navy addressed senior decision-makers at firms including Allen & Overy and Eversheds. The event was organised by the InterLaw Diversity Forum for LGBT Networks, an alliance of 60 law firms and 40 corporate and financial institutions.

Gay networking sites are illegal in places such as Dubai, where employers have to avoid ‘promoting’ homosexuality. However, LGBT group BT Kaleidoscope operates an extranet site that allows employees worldwide to log on anonymously to gain support.

The organisations also have more advanced diversity monitoring systems than the legal profession.

Simmons & Simmons partner and InterLaw founder Daniel Winterfeldt said: “Law firms have a role to play in changing attitudes like any other business. Offices in London can help those abroad develop their own agenda in a sensitive, appropriate way.”