Four simple ways to elevate queer representation in corporate leadership

Ian Clarke

Article author

Reading time: 12 min

Last updated: June 10th, 2024

Four simple ways to elevate queer representation in corporate leadership

Its Pride Month in the UK and around the world

"We want to deliver real, proportionate and meritocratic queer inclusion across the senior leadership teams of the FTSE"

An authentic request for change support from one of my firms strategic partners and clients. Looking around at all the corporate involvement this Pride Month, you'd be forgiven for thinking this change must already be done and dusted. Think again...

Sadly today, behind the joyous facade of rainbow washing and brass band parading, across big business - indeed Humanity itself - love is not love. For those with an authentic reason to be proud this June, we took a look at what's really going on and how to fix it.

With money and profit the primary basis on which they are judged, the leaders of our largest institutions naturally focus their transformation efforts on what is measured and connected to revenue and profitability. In the context of queer inclusion, such measurement and connection is provided in the form of LGBTQ+ corporate ranking and rating systems. In this sector, Stonewall and Human Rights Campaign (HRC, for short) dominate. Yet, with one singular exception, there remains no ‘out’ executives on the C-Suite’s of the FTSE100. That’s despite the Human Genome Project (2003) finding no meaningful difference in human capability across any trait (sexuality included). Plus the financial business case for true queer inclusion aligning with the legal and moral case for at least 9 years now (since McKinsey & Co's 2015 Diversity Matters report). So where's the disconnect?

Scientific research surrounding hatred and oppression has consistently found it to be no rational problem. Rather, it's a deeply emotive, nuanced, complex and global wicked problem that has become broadly (if not openly) viewed as unsolvable by most today. The ensuing vacuum of helplessness, (lack of) determination and imagination (of any viable solution) behind Stonewall and HRC's impotence has long doomed us all. So much so that their true purpose is now verifiably to:

  1. Fuel Complacency: Most wrongly believe positive change is still coming

  2. Prevents Change: Both organisations use their financial clout, networks and nepotism to aggressively defend their marketplace and share against new entrants genuinely seeking change.

  3. Spreads Hatred: An absence of equal and opposite force has led to rampant levels of repression and oppression of the innate, sexually non-binary true nature of human workforces around the world.

Absent all transparency and accountability (on their burgeoning conflicts of interest and the universally dreadful choices by their leaders), corporates can now top eithers list simply by:

  • A) Extortion: Taking the most money from queer beings during Pride Month;

  • B) Fraud: Spending the most on D&I and other performative, dehumanising measures, or;

  • C) Bribery: Giving the most money to Stonewall and HRC directly.

But certainly not by giving brave queer voices a say in how your firm, industry or government is run beyond Pride Month. The tragic message to the queer community everywhere is loud and clear:

Everything wrong with Pride Month in one post.

Deilightful Industry Remediation Report: Queer Corporate Indices

Stonewall... has a problem

  • Type: Top-100 numeric ranking index

  • Positioning: “The definitive benchmarking tool for employers to measure their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion in the workplace”

  • Assessment Areas: (1) Employee policy, (2) Employee lifecycle, (3) Staff networks, (4) Allies and role models, (5) Senior leadership, (6) Monitoring, (7) Procurement, and (8) Customers, Service Users and Clients.

  • Best Bits: “Once we've reviewed your work, we'll give you in-depth written and verbal feedback. We'll also provide you with best practice examples and ways we can support you further.”

  • Worst Bits: The many equal rankings indicates an ineffective binary score system. No two firms are ever a) identical or b) perfect. The absence of a rating system leads to a ‘best of bad bunch’ approach with no incentive to go beyond ‘market norms’. There's also no transparency over criteria, section score breakdowns, conflicts of interest, feedback, strengths and weaknesses

  • Verdict: Unintelligent life, incapable of driving meaningful change

HRC... has a problem

  • Type: Top-100 numeric scoring index (0-100 points basis), with a top-20 ranking index

  • Positioning: “The national benchmarking tool measuring policies, practices and benefits pertinent to LGBTQ+ staff, and primary driving force for LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion.”

  • Assessment Areas: (1) Staff policy, (2) Staff lifecycle, (3) ERG’s, (4) Allies/role models, (5) Senior leaders, (6) Monitoring, (7) Procurement, and (8) Customers, service users and clients.

  • Best Bits: The full list is published publicly, alongside an expansive ‘Accelerating Global Equality’ report which attempts (with some success) to meaningfully evaluate the changing workplace and geopolitical landscape impacting queer workers.

  • Worst Bits: 842 firms scored a ‘distinction’ (the top mark) in 2022, seven having done so for 20 consecutive years now, despite zero meaningful LGBTQ+ representation in their decision-making structures. A lack of ambition reflected in their success criteria which deem oppression a passive system so focus entirely on policies and benefits.

  • Verdict: Unintelligent life, incapable of driving meaningful change

Here, unlike Stonewall’s approach, HRC only ranks the top-20 publicly. This opacity and absence of fairness or accountability renders the exercise suspicious and broadly irrelevant. As Winston Churchill (We/Human) said, "to be perfect is to change often". Not to achieve a perfect score for twenty years, absent of any queer board members. Sadly, this list measures nothing more than HRC’s own dreadful levels of bribery, corruption, conflicts of interest and thus complicity in crimes against humanity.

Principle Finding:

Wholly ineffective and entirely irrelevant at driving change, LGBTQ+ indices today exist only to spin lies, earn money, spread hatred, fuel inaction, spawn antisocial deconstruction, encourage omnicomplacency, infinitely divide and prevent all possible hope of change. Dreadful

...And four simple ways to put it right

Change 1: Competition

Being uncomfortable drives change

Urgently there is a need for an effective counterweight to the knowing unchange in queer representation being expedited by Stonewall and HRC’s duopoly on omnifailure. With their leadership vividly infected by the dark energy anomaly, both collectives are provably aligned to darkness, thus will never cooperate.

Change 2: Meaningfulness

Deeds, not words

Today firms spend more on billboards claiming success on D&I than they do on D&I. Instead, they must move beyond the performative allyship to focus finally on the things that matter. Like truly safe spaces for human staff, meritocratic decision-making and performance review bodies, complimentary fit recruitment, plus (finally) authentic risk management. To audit progress, use human spectroscopy, not box checking

Change 3: Minimum Standards

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results

For any replacement solution, full transparency is needed on bias reduction controls, conflicts of interest, corporate engagement, assessment criteria, data collection and calculation methodology. Given the sexually-spectral nature of all humans, this is great opportunity to ally all protected characteristics, plus atleast eight further traits vividly facing corporate oppression across big firms today. Or we can simply destroy the idiots.

Change 4: Corporate Engagement

Value uniqueness, not difference

Trust and respect can only be restored through a wholesale change of all leadership, root and branch industry wide reform (led by change makers), and authentic engagement across all staff levels plus the wider global human community, absent revenge or deception


Today, vividly and verifiably, Stonewall and HRC exists solely to enrich their leaders and prevent change - nothing more. So for anyone authentically seeking to promote queer interests, either (a) convince them to honour their stated purpose by implementing these recommended changes or (b) depose and replace them with a viable, effective equivalent that can deliver truly meaningful change towards a more sexually-spectral boardroom.

That would require:

1. A new published relative ranking system, from best to worst

Differentiate corporates from each other, to proudly amplify or purposefully deplore those role modelling versus those shunning best imaginable practices. Include reasoned, open and authentic commentary on each score. Provide clear guidance on what deeds (not words) might lead to a better or worse future rating.

2. A new published absolute scoring system, employing spectroscopy

This overcomes the moths inherent herd mentality against change and tendancy to cling to sub-optimal states. That’s by showing each constituents position in the journey from worst possible to best imaginable practice.

3. An accompanying, authentic annual progress report

Foster absolute trust and respect through your real, fair, sourced, unbiased narrative. Ensure all conflicts of interest are declared. Then have the leaders deemed accountable for its content sign and seal it under the Promise Keepers Commitment. Thus enjoy unquestionable worthiness, openness, transparency, responsibility and authenticity in your meaningful change’s sweet success.

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Allyship and Advocacy
Allyship and Advocacy

By emphasising social justice, inclusion and the equality of human rights in all that you do, you can create the ultimate working environment for creative ideas, perspectives and opinions to thrive. That means taking a naturally and actively anti-oppressive stance on conversations and matters concerning all areas of diversity from age, race, gender, ability, nationality, religion, sexuality and more.

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Forget bend it like Beckham. Aerliast for The Box NYC, instructor at Brooklyn's Body and Pole and Underground Cabaret heartthrob Jacob McKee (pictured here) - like so many outstanding queer talents - has made his decision. In the lipsync battle between boardroom and stage, she done already done had herses. But who misses out more from the absence of LGBTQ+ talent in the city, and which city has LGBTQ+ talent had the biggest impact? I guess this one's a lip sync.