This time last year, during the nominations process for our third annual OUTstanding and FT Power Lists, there was a sense of progress and celebration surrounding the LGBT+ community. We had achieved marriage equality, tighter anti-discriminatory laws had been put in place and - as the publication of our first 'Future Leaders' list proved - more people were standing up to be counted as visible role models.
Sadly, it feels like we're regressing in 2016. From the unspeakable events in Orlando, to hate crimes in post-referendum London, the bruising of the LGBT+ community on the world stage is a reminder that full LGBT+ acceptance has not yet been realised. Less violent acts have been equally destructive. Whether it's the divisive arguments across the US about which bathroom trans* people can use or the disappointing realisation last month that, following Christopher Bailey's departure from Burberry's CEO position, there are again no openly gay CEOs in the FTSE 100.
That's why it's more important than ever to celebrate the inspirational leaders who prove sexuality or gender identity need not be a barrier to success. It is at these moments when the voices of big business and government have the power to catalyse change and alter public sentiment. PayPal achieved something incredible earlier this year by taking a stand in North Carolina. And internally, globally responsible companies can create environments that allow LGBT+ people to feel safe to be themselves.
As we open nominations for our fourth Power Lists - we will once again be celebrating 100 LGBT+ executives, 30 Ally executives, and 30 fantastic LGBT+ future leaders - I am encouraged by our successes at OUTstanding and our phenomenal members who take diversity in business seriously. Since our launch, membership has grown to over to 60 businesses, including 24% of the FTSE 100!
Last year's lists were our most diverse and global lists to date - but if 2016 has taught us anything, it is that we must push harder. 75 countries still criminalise homosexuality and, even in more liberal societies, 62% of LGBT+ graduates who were out at University go back in the closet when they start their first job. But true inclusivity is more than sexuality. We want to champion more BAME leaders, more women and more trans* representatives, from more companies and across more industries.
As last year's no. 1 on the Top 100 Inga Beale, CEO Lloyd's of London commented, "Inclusion is the foundation of innovation, and having an open, accepting, and diverse workforce will enable us to succeed in a changing and challenging world."
Please help us celebrate something good and drive the cause of inclusivity forward in 2016 by nominating either yourself or a LGBT+ business leader, future leader or executive ally.
About the OUTstanding Power Lists:
For the Top 100 LGBT+ and Top 30 Ally lists, celebrated business leaders will be at the executive level in business (two or three steps from the CEO); a positive and Out (i.e. visible) role model; and/or actively contributing to the LGBT+ agenda. For the LGBT+ Future Leader list, nominees will be high potential employees who are helping make the workplace a more welcoming environment for everyone. The final lists will be organised according to equally weighted scored questions on the themes of career, company and activity that would contribute to an environment where LGBT+ executives can succeed and will be ratified by an independent judging panel.
Nominations are officially open, you can nominate your leaders via the OUTstanding website (www.out-standing.org/nominations) Each nominee will then be contacted for supporting information. Nominations close on September 2nd. And the deadline for supporting information is September 12th.
The lists will be published on October 25th in the FT.