José Berenguer has been named the best role model in the world for being an LGBT+ executive ally.
An “ally” is someone who does not identify as LGBT+ but who supports the community in efforts for inclusion and rights.
Berenguer has topped the OUTstanding list of top 50 LGBT+ executive allies 2019. The list is part of diversity and inclusion group INvolve’s annual lists of LGBT+ Role Models, which are supported by Yahoo Finance.
All of the allies on the list — who must be non-LGBT+ senior executives who can demonstrate their support for inclusion — were nominated by peers and colleagues, or put themselves forward. Nominations were reviewed by the OUTstanding judging panel who scored each person on the influence of their role, their impact on people inside and outside the workplace, and their business achievements.
Berenguer is the CEO of Banco JP Morgan (JPM) in Brazil and his leadership helped it become the first bank to get the ‘Empresa Amiga da Diversidade’ (Diversity Friendly Company) seal in the country. It’s largely down to his tireless work being the best ally for all LGBT+ staff in the organisation.
Berenguer told Yahoo Finance UK he was “honoured and proud” to top the list, but said it was an important “recognition of thousands of people at JPM across all geographies.”
Berenguer is a role model for anyone wanting to be an executive ally because he doesn’t just support LGBT+ colleagues but leads from the front in celebrating them and pushing for rights and inclusion.
He has spoken annually at the Out & Equal Forum Brazil since 2016, alongside JP Morgan global chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon. Berenguer was also the first non-US C-level executive to deliver a plenary at the 2017 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Philadelphia.
Other achievements that helped him rise to number one on the list include:
Championing a public statement calling on all Brazil’s presidential candidates to come out in support of LGBT+ inclusion, resulting in signatures from 35 companies and NGO’s employing more than 110,000 people in Brazil;
Supporting both Itaú, the largest bank in Latin America, and B3, the Brazilian Exchange, with the launch of their LGBT+ networks. These actions leveraged the creation of an LGBT+ Financial Markets Group, co-founded by JPMorgan and championed by Berenguer, which comprises 12 leading financial institutions.
Berenguer said the award was a “recognition of the impact of the role the bank plays in Brazil, internally, as well as influencing the wider market,” he said. JP Morgan Brazil has consistently pushed other market players to join its initiatives and adopt strategies aimed at making the workplace as diverse and inclusive as it can be.
Berenguer was keen to point out that all his achievements come down to the support of colleagues and collaboration between peers.
He said the key to being a good ally is being aware of the power and influence you wield. For example, Berenguer’s role as Executive Sponsor of JP Morgan’s LGBT+ network since its inception 6 years ago sends a powerful signal to staff within the bank — especially given it was the first LGBT+ network launched at a bank in Brazil.
Addressing your own upbringing and environment and identifying what needs to change is also important, he said.
“I’m a product of a very conservative family and when I started out my career in trading, the environment was very conservative, very polluted and what you saw in [the film] The Wolf of Wall Street,” he said.
“I saw several types of bullying and types of attitudes. The more I started getting involved in operations and also spoke to and had the shock of how clients had the perspective on such behaviours, I realised that we needed a more productive and happier atmosphere — across the industry. It was the first big reality check.”
Berenguer has constantly tried to lead by example since then, working with diverse communities to put in place initiatives to make banking as a whole more inclusive for everyone.
These efforts have led to greater productivity, happier staff, as well society-changing influence, he said.
Yahoo Finance supports all of INvolve’s executive role model lists. Check out some of them here with accompanying winner profiles: