A coincidence of dates and a moment of serendipity. During the month of June – Pride Month – James Cove, Senior Vice President at Natixis Investment Managers, celebrates twenty years at Natixis, marking an important milestone in the story of a young man who joined the company and gradually found his own path, staying loyal to the company in an environment that promoted both personal and professional fulfilment.
I have a responsibility to act as a role model. It is important for me to promote respect between staff and with our clients.
“I always tried to be myself”, says Jim from his home in Boston: his LinkedIn page adorned with the rainbow colors reflects his commitment. But Jim wanted to take his engagement further and decided to set up an employee resource group for LGBTQ+ staff last year. The group’s key aims are to listen and raise awareness across the entire company on the various dimensions of diversity, while ensuring that it applies an inclusive policy on a daily basis. “This is a real grass-roots program inspired by staff’s experiences”, explains Jim, outlining an initiative that reflects real progress, according to top management.
“As a leader, I have a responsibility to act as a role model. It is important for me to promote respect between staff and with our clients. Showing empathy and sincerity helps us understand each other better and eases a lot of misconceptions”. The question of inequality and racial violence in the United States was very much in the news last year and has also raised awareness on these issues. Jim is convinced that these subjects are very connected as ultimately, they all come down to prejudice and misconception, creating barriers. “What applies to LGBTQ+ also applies to all minorities. Regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, age, social or ethnic background, disability, or gender, each and every person must be confident that they will be treated with respect and be assured that their company has faith in them.”
A culture of trust and support means we can all bring our best selves to work
Bringing their best selves to work
However, this social environment now also combines with another source of pressure – that of clients. “Our largest accounts, like Merrill Lynch, now ask us about our Diversity & Inclusion policy. These are not empty words – they have real expectations and a desire for transparency in our responses, and this can jeopardize our business if we fail to address their questions completely. So, opening to all forms of diversity has now also become a business imperative”. Corporate social responsibility is closely monitored in the United States, so failing to hear these increasingly high client expectations would be a risk.
“Everyone stands to gain in this situation. I encourage a culture of trust and support as it helps everyone bring their best selves to work” says Jim. Seen from the outside, staff in Natixis’ Boston office are a great example of a pioneer attitude, and Jim reflects the university capital’s values of tolerance and openness, that are a source of pride for the city. Boston is a gay-friendly city where in 2007 “as soon as it became possible” Jim was able to marry the man who has shared his life since 1995. His family and friends have always supported him, and he found this same non-judgmental attitude at Natixis: his teams and his husband support him too. Meanwhile Jim wants to see more role models in all entities, in both global companies and SMEs. “I realize how lucky I am – not all LGBTQ+ individuals in all areas of the world enjoy the same safe environment” … which is exactly why he is committed and determined to bring about change.