Black and Gay in Corporate America - Black Enterprise
Career Magazine

Black and Gay in Corporate America

When the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index launched in 2002, 13 companies received its top rating of 100%. In 2011, 337 companies earned a 100% rating, up from 305 in 2010, including Ford, Bank of America, and IBM–all on this year’s 40 Best Companies for Diversity list. The top three industries for employers rated 100% are law firms; banking and financial services; and retail and consumer products. Forty-seven companies scored 0%.

Finding the Right Support System
Colleen Taylor has spent her 21-year career working at three financial institutions (JPMorgan Chase, Wachovia, and Capital One) that have been inclusive and supportive of both LGBT and African American employees and their communities. “I have been out for 20 of those years,” says Taylor, an executive vice president and head of treasury management and merchant services with McLean, Virginia-based Capital One Bank.

Taylor, 43, one of BE’s Most Powerful Women in Business, made a conscious decision to come out to family, friends, and colleagues. “Anyone who knows me knows I’m gay. And I’m black. And I’m also a woman. It’s just part of who I am,” she says. While it has not been her experience, Taylor knows others in despair because they are not out at their workplace. “African American LGBT employees need to feel comfortable about showing up at work being who they are,” says Taylor, who points out that leadership sets the tone. “CEOs and senior executives need to be committed around a true sense of inclusion and diversity” by verbalizing it and reinforcing it with policies and programs.

Early on in his career, Curtis Pate III, 33, worked at financial services companies absent of openly gay senior executives–and definitely not any person of color. At that time, he believed coming out at work would have been detrimental to his career. “I would often hear comments about gays and lesbians that were off-putting.” Since coming to work for