JPMorgan counsel backs gay workers

JPMorgan managing director and assistant general counsel Tim Hailes is spearheading a major new diversity campaign aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in London and is set to open discussions with his external law firms on the issue.

The investment bank’s move is part of its general diversity programme and is designed to build trust among its gay employees through a series of initiatives, including an internal website and an eye-catching poster campaign. The bank has worked closely with gay rights group Stonewall.

Hailes, who is the diversity representative on the bank’s global legal group, told The Lawyer: “Diversity and inclusivity is about engaging each individual as an individual in the work environment. If people only feel able to engage 60 per cent of their individuality in the workplace then they can surely only ever be 60 per cent as good as their maximum potential.

“I think my effectiveness at my job is the result of the combination of the full force of the person I am and my technical competence as a lawyer. It just doesn’t make business sense to have individuals partly engaging with colleagues.”

The initiative, dubbed ‘Pride’, comes just a week after the Law Society published a report on the career experiences of gay and lesbian solicitors, focusing on private practice.

It recommended that firms should capture data on the sexual orientation of solicitors, but also make clear why the information is being sought and how it would be used. It also urged employers to recognise same-sex partnerships.

Very few firms currently monitor sexual orientation as part of their workforce statistics. Exceptions include Herbert Smith and Simmons & Simmons.