October 23, 2020

Deloitte Claims to Fire Clients Who Reject Gay Consultants

Last year, we had a pretty candid conversation about gay. We talked and talked and talked until we were blue in the face (there's a joke there I'm missing, I'm sure). At the end, I don't think we got any closer toward getting a feel of how comfortable public accounting is with gay, and in fact, we came across plenty of gays who aren't even comfortable with their own gay.

Now, the NYT is pointing out that not a single one of America's 1000 largest companies employs an openly gay CEO.

From that article, we get the perspective of Christie Smith, who is managing principal of the Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion. According to her, Deloitte doesn't want to work with clients who don't want to work with gay consultants:

“When you look at the root cause, what is the pink ceiling, it’s really this unstated demand in organizations for individuals to downplay their identities and to conform to the norms of the organization,” said Christie Smith, a principal at the consulting firm Deloitte, who manages its center for inclusion.

A Deloitte report by Ms. Smith and Kenji Yoshino, a New York University School of Law professor, found that 83 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual people hide aspects of their identity at work, often because they say their bosses expect them to.

At some companies, for example, there is a belief that bringing a same-sex partner to an event like a deal-closing dinner with a conservative client could be bad for business.

And sometimes it could be. Deloitte has assigned gay consultants to work on projects for clients, only to have the clients call and say they do not want a gay person on the team, Ms. Smith said. Deloitte walked away from those contracts, she said.

“This is the leadership issue of our time,” she said.

Honestly, unless you are going to the client site dressed like a RuPaul's Drag Race contestant (#TeamBianca amiright?!), who you sleep with shouldn't be a factor at all. But, you know, this being corporate America and all, it does matter.

The issue is so big that even straight white guys are attempting to be less straight and white, presumably because they aren't diverse enough and should feel guilty about it? I couldn't begin to explain away that one, though our straight, white, male correspondent Colin attempted to. Basically it means not calling your senior Broseph in casual conversation and something about O.A.R.

Back to the matter at hand, do we believe Deloitte is really firing clients who throw a hissyfit over a gay on the team?

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