50 years ago around 2,000 people attended the UK’s first Pride march in London. On July 2 this year the event, which has evolved to become Britain’s biggest LGBTQ+ festival, could attract over one and a half million.

Those figures are just one indication of the positive shift in social attitudes since pioneering campaigners took to the streets of London in 1972, but there has been significant progress in the international finance sector too. In recent years we’re proud to say that AILO has been at the forefront of positive change, not just in our industry but also in the context of the wider finance sector.

Vicki Hotchkiss – Chair of AILO’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) committee – says the 50th anniversary, and Pride Month in June, make it an ideal time to celebrate the achievements of the generation which built the foundations for today’s Pride movement. “As always, Pride Month will be an important time to reflect on the allyship offered to existing LGBTQ+ colleagues and, most importantly, what more we can do to create supportive, inclusive workplaces. The Pride In London event in July will feature inspiring stories about the individuals and groups who have broken down barriers over the past 50 years. At AILO, we want to harness that inspirational energy and channel it into our DE&I campaign which is based on two principles. Firstly, treating people equally is the right thing to do. Secondly, we know that there is a positive correlation between diversity and companies’ financial performance. As an organisation which has Members across Europe and in the rest of the world, we’re ideally placed to show leadership based on those principles.”

As part of our DE&I campaign, we recently agreed a partnership with the Link LGBTQ+ Insurance Network. AILO is delighted to be a Gold Sponsor for Link Pride 2022 which celebrates 50 years of Pride, and includes Queer Frontiers which is a week-long pop up art exhibition in June with the aim of showcasing work by some of the world’s most exciting queer artists and allies. Link Pride 2022 events also include a range of webinars and virtual learning opportunities throughout the year which AILO Members in all locations will have access to.

The main aim of Link – which is to make the insurance industry the employer of choice for the LGBTQ+ community – is one that AILO shares, says Vicky. “There’s no doubt that the insurance and finance sectors – and society generally in many countries – have made significant progress in the past 50 years, but there’s still much more work to be done. Statistics from Link, for example, show that one in four LGB workers have experienced bullying in the workplace. On a positive note, data from the same source shows that three out of every four heterosexual employees believe that anti-gay prejudice should be addressed. So, while there is much more that needs to be done, there are reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for achieving more progress that will ultimately be of benefit to employers, employees and customers.”

Events around the 50th Pride anniversary, says Vicky, are at the heart of AILO’s DE&I ambitions for 2022 to raise awareness and understanding of the commercial advantages of fostering an inclusive culture across the sectors, and jurisdictions, in which our Members operate.

Other high-profile events will also provide focus points later in the year, following on from our activities to celebrate International Women’s Day in March. Vicky said: “Media coverage and discussions inspired by the UK’s National Inclusion Week (September 26 to October 2); Black History Month (October); and International Men’s Day (November 19) will all help Members to stay focused on making even more progress on DE&I.”