Lawrence Spicer has had a long and accomplished history of working on behalf of the LGBT+ community. It’s a distinction that has earned him recognition globally and made him a sought-after speaker, advocate and role model.

He’s supported new initiatives that inform, educate and make the workplace more welcoming, using his voice to pave the way for inclusion and change. For the past two years, he’s been the top Canadian on the Financial Times of London’s list of LGBTQ+ global business leaders. In a special to The Globe and Mail, Lawrence was interviewed about his career choices, and his views on the future world of work for LGBTQ+ youth.

In the article, Lawrence said he earned promotions during his 30-year career with RBC to increasingly senior positions in Canada and the Caribbean without exposure to bias or stigma, thanks in large part to leaders who set the tone and created an environment of inclusion.

The article points to the career support Lawrence received at the bank before and after he came out. “I was in a stable relationship, had financial security, had my education and had a place to live. ...I wasn’t at risk.” He added that back then “I had mentors around me and came up on the leadership track without revealing [my sexual orientation].”

He admits younger members of the LGBTQ+ community may still face hurdles at work and expressed his concern for younger generations. “Generation X and Millennials are coming out earlier, but they are at more risk [than I am]. They don’t have their education finished and they may not have stability around them.”

As a result, he says, stress is a constant factor for this community.

Coming out is not one and done

Lawrence said coming out is not a once and done thing and that in both life and in business, one is constantly ‘coming out’: “If you are leading a business and you are meeting your next client, you would have to choose whether to reveal your sexual orientation.”

The article highlighted the importance of networks which allow people to have conversations and share experiences in safe places.

Championing Diversity & Inclusion inside and outside of RBC

Lawrence is on the advisory committee of a new program to be offered in the fall at Queen’s University’s Toronto location for senior leaders who self-identify as LGBTQ+. Believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, the week-long LGBTQ Executive Leadership program will use traditional MBA material layered with diversity and inclusion topics, such as how to lead change, develop “authentic” leadership, manage one’s career and sharpen skills in negotiation, consensus-building and responding to conscious and unconscious bias.

In July, Lawrence will travel to London to be a member of the jury of the 2018 RAHM contest which recognizes outstanding LGBTQ+ leaders from around the world.

Within RBC, Lawrence is Executive Chair of RBC Pride Canada and executive sponsor of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee in Internal Audit.

André Roberts
June 5, 2018

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