Wednesday, October 21, 2015

LGBT Time To Shine In Business

Today I completed an Economist Insights survey distributed to business thought leaders. I get these all the time from various media outlets seeking to aggregate my genius with that of other leaders. This one was about LGBT inclusion, something I don't think I've ever addressed on the Alfidi Capital Blog. The world has gone without my awesome wisdom on this topic for far too long. I won't keep you all deprived any longer.

You'd think that LGBT inclusion would now be a given among corporate executives. Globe-trotting honchos are supposed to be some of the most cosmopolitan and enlightened people around. The tone of the Economist survey's questions hinted that executives in some regions are further behind their global peers. Local culture is probably a limiting factor. Imagine writing an inclusive HR policy for a multinational conglomerate only to discover that local government officials in some backwards country won't tolerate contact with an openly LGBT employee.

Catalyst's Quick Take: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Workplace Issues from May 2015 is the most comprehensive body of knowledge I could find on the workplace value of LGBT employees. They have plenty of buying power but they also face more barriers to advancement. I may not have blogged much about workplace discrimination in the past, but I have definitely blogged about how C-suite personal behavior and HR performance incentives determine the entirety of corporate culture. Change starts at the top because people emulate their leaders' personal behavior and respond to economic incentives. Get CEOs out in front meeting with their LGBT employees' affinity networks, and get their public endorsements of nondiscriminatory HR standards. Advances in ERP knowledge management modules now offer collaborative tools that managers can use to ensure everyone, gay or straight, stays engaged.

I have tried reaching out to LGBT people here in San Francisco. I sat at the same table as a gay man and a post-operative transsexual female during my service on the City and County of San Francisco's Veterans Affairs Commission. I never had any problems with their personal histories, although other Commissioners frequently disagreed with my policy ideas. I may have ruffled a few feathers in 2012 when I declined to endorse one Commissioner's idea to name a US Navy ship after Harvey Milk, because I do not believe in naming warships after politicians of any stripe . . . not even for the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). I stated back then that I would much prefer to see the US Navy name a ship after Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a true Revolutionary War hero who was probably homosexual. If anyone can carry the torch for a group that's been ignored or suppressed for most of human history, it's someone with battlefield bona fides. I'm pretty sure the San Francisco County Veterans Service Office has a record of my Commission statements on file somewhere.

Alfidi Capital is a one-person operation for a single, straight white male (that's Yours Truly, Anthony Alfidi, in case you need the hint). There isn't any internal policy change I could make with this enterprise that would make a difference for the LGBT community because I would only be talking to myself. My so-called white male privilege doesn't help me around the home office if I'm the only one here. Running my mouth to the outside world is a far more effective way to make people change their minds. Hey corporate honchos, lots of your LGBT people are in hiding because they wonder whether their leaders care about them. It's their time to shine after spending forever in the dark.