McKinsey’s LGBTQ+ network GLAM celebrates 25th anniversary

The LGBTQ+ network of global management consultancy McKinsey & Company has celebrated its 25th anniversary. Founded in 1995, the GLAM network now includes thousands of LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies worldwide.

A 2012 Human Rights Campaign study found that a staggering 62% of Generation Y LGBT+ graduates said that despite having been out at university, they returned to the closet when they started their first job. This has both a terrible human cost, and an economic impact on companies where LGBTQ+ employees feel they cannot be open about themselves. A survey by the OUTstanding network in 2018 showed non-inclusive workplaces have a negative impact on employees, and can damage productivity, while LGBTQ+ employees who were ‘in the closet’ were 70% more likely to leave a company within the first three years.

In order to try and change this, McKinsey & Company has been working to make its own workplace, and those of its clients, inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community for a quarter of a century. Launched in 1995 by a handful of staff, GLAM has expanded to become a vibrant worldwide network of LGBTQ+ colleagues committed to one another’s success, as well as attracting exceptional LGBTQ+ individuals into the McKinsey community.

Brian Rolfes, Partner in Global Recruiting, has been with GLAM from the very beginning. Still part of the GLAM Leadership team, Rolfest appeared on a company video celebrating GLAM’s 25th anniversary. He recalled, “I can remember back in 1995, there were 14 of us, and we got together in the house of a Partner in Washington, DC. A guy named John De Vincentis – and he really is the true founder of GLAM – he realized this was 1995, and we needed to do something if we wanted to be at the forefront of LGBTQ+ issues in McKinsey. So he pulled together those folks he happened to know who were LGBTQ+ for a dinner.”

The network began to provide peer support to LGBTQ+ firm members and advises McKinsey on LGBTQ+ policies and benefits. This soon led to McKinsey becoming the first employer to actively recruit LGBTQ+ MBA students almost 20 years ago, as well as one of the first employers in the world to offer global tax-equalization domestic partner benefits. It has since earned a perfect score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate equality index every year since 2006, when GLAM first joined the survey.

GLAM has continued to evolve over the last 25 years, and now includes people of all orientations and gender identities throughout the world, comprising more than 900 firm members across nearly 100 offices. The group has also looked to develop a network of allies to support “Glammies” in offices where they are fewer in number.

Ana Mendy, partner and member of the GLAM Leadership team, explained, “When we discovered other Glammies at McKinsey, we found out that there were seven of us, so we thought ‘that’s great, there are seven of us [in the office.]’ But then we thought, ‘flash-forward, there may be two people in the Dubai office, and are they going to go through what we went through before we discovered each other?’ And so, out of that came GLAM allies [in 2011].”

However, despite its rapid growth, the group is not resting on its laurels now either. GLAM is also looking to make a difference by hosting LGBTQ+ master classes, pro-bono consulting for the community, and hosting The Alliance – a McKinsey-convened annual global conference to talk about how to improve LGBTQ+ rights around the world.

Speaking on the 25th anniversary of GLAM’s launch, McKinsey partner and GLAM global co-lead Diana Ellsworth said, “Years ago, having a group of nearly 1,000 ‘Glammies’ and 5,000 allies must have seemed unimaginable, but here we are. GLAM has such an incredible history, and we’re so strong today – but we’re not stopping. We’re pushing forward to be bigger, better, and brighter in the future.”

Global managing partner Kevin Sneader added, “Inclusion is personal for me. I believe in our research that more inclusivity and more diversity is better. There can be no glass closets, no glass ceilings. We are doing everything we can to make sure that’s the case within and beyond our firm.”

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