By David Reicks and Gregory Diaz
Every year, people, communities and companies all over the world celebrate and show support of the LGBT+ community at local Pride festivities. These events are not only cause for celebration, they are also a good time to reflect upon the tremendous strides made over decades and how we got to where we are today.
Many of the basic resources available to employees today that seem commonplace were not always available. In many instances when public policy was lacking, it was the private sector and the business community who became early allies and adopters of workplace protections and benefits.
For example, in the early 1980s as the AIDS crisis was unfolding and misunderstood, it was a seemingly conservative financial institution — Bank of America — that established one of the nation’s first human resources policies for employees with AIDS. More than 20 years ago, the bank became the first financial services company to offer domestic partner benefits to employees, and more than 10 years ago, they extended health benefits to include medically necessary procedures for transgender employees.
From comprehensive health care coverage to employee education and employee resource groups, we are proud to work for a company which has been ahead of many in courageous conversations toward greater equality. Bank of America took these actions because promoting a safe, equitable and inclusive environment for LGBT+ employees creates a productive workplace and attracts top talent.
Indeed, research shows a correlation between LGBT+ employees who feel comfortable in their workplace setting and higher levels of productivity. It’s simple — happier employees create happier experiences for clients.
Today, our LGBT+ employee network volunteers hundreds of hours in the San Diego community, offers educational and career development support for its Out and Ally teammates, and raises awareness of issues relevant to the LGBT+ community across our global company.
Our actions go beyond our own employees, extending support to our LGBT+ clients and the communities we serve. Merrill has financial advisors who advise LGBT+ clients about the unique nuances and laws that can impact the finances, financial futures and retirement plans for these households.
As we once again prepare to be part of San Diego Pride, we are inspired hearing from colleagues and clients who share their personal stories of courage and milestones, as we work together toward greater diversity and inclusion in every part of our lives. This year, as we parade shoulder to shoulder with colleagues, loved ones and our greater family, we proudly acknowledge the journey and victories with all of you.
Be sure to wave hello!
— David Reicks is the senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Gregory Diaz is a small business officer at Bank of America.