The Most LGBTQ-Friendly Firm on Wall Street was originally published on Firsthand.
It’s hard to believe that, last week, in 27 U.S. states, it was legal to fire employees solely based on their sexual orientation—if they they were gay, bisexual, or transgender. But now, following Monday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ rights, it’s finally against the law to do so in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
What the Court exactly ruled on was the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.” The question put to the court had to do with whether “sex” applied to LGBTQ workers. The Supreme Court voted 6-3 that it does.
On behalf of the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex … It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”
According to The New York Times, “The decision achieved a decades-long goal of gay rights proponents, one they had initially considered much easier to achieve than a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. But even as the Supreme Court established that right in 2015, workplace discrimination remained lawful in most of the country. An employee who married a same-sex partner in the morning could be fired that afternoon for being gay.”
Indeed, the ruling was a monumental victory for LGBTQ rights in America. And in its honor, today, in the third week of Pride month, we’re highlighting the firm that for the past two years has ranked No. 1 in our annual ranking of the best banks for LGBTQ Diversity: Bank of America.
What Bank of America insiders told us about the firm’s support of LGBTQ employees
In our latest banking survey, the results of which were used to create our 2020 Banking Rankings, we asked 3,300 banking professionals about life at their firms. We asked professionals to rate their firms in and comment on numerous workplace categories, including compensation, benefits, hours, training, work/life balance, relationships with managers, promotion policies, and diversity.
And with respect to diversity, Bank of America insiders told us that their firm “is very dedicated to LGBTQ+ inclusion and affinity group opportunities.” One banker said, “I recommend it to fellow LGBTQ+ industry members as a great place to work.” Another told us, “I’m gay and feel very comfortable being myself around my colleagues and talking about my life. My boyfriend has come to numerous work events and met my coworkers. Additionally, the bank has announced a childcare reimbursement policy for same sex couples adopting or having a child through IVF. Bank of America is a great place to be out at work.”
Overall, Bank of America “is very focused on diversity,” with “well developed and supported diversity initiatives for both hiring and development for women, minorities, inter-generational individuals, LGBTQ+ individuals, individuals with disabilities, and military veterans.” According to one banker, BofA is “one of the best firms for diversity and inclusion I have worked for.” Another insider pointed out that BofA “has a rich culture of setting up volunteer events that benefits the communities it serves. The bank has taken up aspects of diversity head-on and is investing in ways to attract and maintain a diverse workforce.”
Specific Bank of America benefits for LGBTQ employees
Historically, Bank of America has been one of the leaders on Wall Street when it comes benefits for LGBTQ employees. BofA was the first financial services firm to offer comprehensive domestic partner benefits to LGBTQ employees and the first to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policies. It was also one of the first financial services companies to cover employees’ medically necessary treatments for the transition process.
Today, among the benefits that LGBTQ employees at BofA are able to take advantage of include: up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave; up to $20,000 to help with adoption, fertility, and/or surrogacy expenses; confidential, one-on-one support for employees transitioning at work; a Transgender Summit that brings together transgender employees with LGBTQ executives “for a week of dialogue and action planning about how we can support our transgender employees even more”; and an LGBT+ Pride Ally Program that offers opportunities for BofA employees to participate in educational and volunteer events—the program currently has more than “26,000 out at work LGBT+ employees and visible allies in 30 countries.”
A final note
Bank of America’s diversity initiatives go well beyond serving the LGBTQ community. In addition to ranking No. 1 for LGBTQ Diversity in our latest rankings, Bank of America ranked No. 2 for Female Diversity and No. 1 for Racial Diversity. And underscoring its inclusive and philanthropic culture, BofA recently announced it would be committing “$1 billion over four years to help local communities grapple with the widened economic and racial inequality caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.”
In a press release in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the anti-racist protests it spawned, BofA CEO Brian Moynihan wrote, “Underlying economic and social disparities that exist have accelerated and intensified during the global pandemic. The events of the past week have created a sense of true urgency that has arisen across our nation, particularly in view of the racial injustices we have seen in the communities where we work and live. We all need to do more.”