What's it like being gay in finance ?
It appears that investment banks hunger for talent, and fear of lawsuits or bad publicity makes them bend over backward to create an open environment for "minorities".
An earlier interviewee even said: "In my mind [the big banks] are really trying too hard. There's always some scheme or stand over-promoting the next workshops for mothers-to-be. One week it's diversity week, the next it's I-don't-know-what week …"
At the same time the higher echelons of the mega-banks are still overwhelmingly occupied by white straight males. Today's interviewee is in the so-called middle office, a support function for traders (in the front office). This is his experience as a gay man and it would be terrific if other gay insiders in finance could join the conversation in the comment thread below.
"Generally I have encountered no homophobia at work. In university it was different. When I told people there, a good 90% was completely confused. It was clearly their first encounter with a gay person. In the workplace, it's best to come out quickly. You don't get terrible homophobic jokes but it's a trading floor environment so there is a lot of banter. This is one reason to come out quickly, to prevent people from embarrassing themselves with a homophobic joke."
The interviewee confirms that in his bank "you see very few, if any, gay people in trading front office positions." Is that due to discrimination?
"I am not sure. I would say that the front office appeals to a certain type of person, and it's an environment that, as a gay man, I don't find particularly welcoming or appealing. You just really don't wanna work there."
The full interview is here, and below the line the interviewee is taking your questions and comments. It would be terrific if other insiders could join the conversation, gay and straight, on what it's like for gay financial workers. Are some banks more friendly to them than others? When I asked the interview whether he believed gay people were over-represented in some areas in finance, he said:
"Well, the regulators are full of them, don't know why really. Maybe the public sector ethos? In our bank the marketing department has quite a few. There is a gay network in the bank, but it's not championed in the same way as, say, women's networks."
Finally, the interviewee has some genuinely important things to say about his work in "product control", one of the functions in a bank tasked with monitoring traders and the risks they take. One quote to whet your appetite:
"Every trader runs one or more so-called 'books' with all his trades. But when a trader leaves for another job, the book usually stays on the system. So you have thousands of old books from traders who stopped years ago. Somebody with intimate knowledge of the systems might try to squirrel away some trades."
In particular, if you are thinking about leaving a comment, please read the full interview first. Since this is a normal working day for the interviewee it may take a little bit of time before he can respond.
• This banking blog features interviews with by now more than 80 insiders across the world of finance. Here is a guide to help outsiders find their way. For insiders there is this index of interviewees ranked by activity. Are you by any chance working in human resources in a bank, or are you a trader in government bonds? Please help this blog: firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymity guaranteed.
This risk analyst in a retail bank talks about her experiences as a transgender PhD quant: "When I came out as gay at work, my boss was really supportive and so were my colleagues. There has been only one idiot so far. But friends who work in the City tell me it's different there."
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