We sat down with Tasha Kitty, Program Director of Talent, Acquisitions, and Management at the home office of Sun Life Financial in Wellesley, MA. The Wellesley location employs approximately 1600 employees.

Q. Why is diversity important in every workplace?
Diversity is important because that’s where innovation happens. Without diversity, you would get like-minded thinking. It breeds innovation. At its grass roots, diversity is going to help you get that way.

Q. Why is it important for Sun Life to be LGBT-friendly?
It’s important for us to support our employees. It’s important for us to support our employees and our customers. It’s important for us to be in that space, because that’s the space where we live and work.

Q. What specific initiatives have you and/or Sun Life spearheaded that have helped you retain such strong LGBT numbers?
We do a various amount of things, some internally and some externally. In itself, it’s a diverse amount of initiatives. Internally, we do have an LGBT employee resource group, called GLOBE (Gays, Lesbians and Others Building Equality.) It focuses on internal and external initiatives on the employee population at large. We have worked closely with PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and the GBBC (Greater Boston Business Council), a few of our community partners. We’ve revamped our policies to not only include sexual orientation but transgender and gender expression and identity. We’ve updated our health insurance as well to include transgender benefits. We also have a domestic partner plan for health insurance, and we’ve hosted the World AIDS quilt.

Externally, we march annually in the Boston Pride Parade. We also have some of our GLOBE employee resource group members go to the ‘Out is Equal’ National Conference. We work closely with the Waltham House, which is a youth residence affiliated with the Home for Little Wanderers. It is one of many LGBTQ houses for teens in the U.S. We volunteer to clean up and sponsor their home at-large.

Q. Where do you recruit LGBT employees? What do you look for?
You recruit where you recruit any other employee. We don’t go anywhere for an LGBT person specifically. Our hope is to recruit LGBT employees at any career fair. That’s why when we go to career fairs, regardless whether it is specifically designated for that community group or not, we like to display that we have received 100% on the HRC corporate quality index. You can recruit an LGBT employee anywhere, it’s all about the face you put on the company and making sure that company is one that cultivates and retains top talent anywhere.

Q. You mentioned the Human Rights Campaign’s “Best Places to Work for LGBT employees” Corporate Equality Index. What thoughts do you have on the HRC?
We are very proud that we received 100% on the HRC Corporate Equality Index over the past three years, and we’re definitely working hard. That organization is great in that it continuously challenges companies to continue that rating. We’ve shown the past few years that we are an LGBT-friendly organization and that we’re continuing to work on it.

Q. Has being LGBT-friendly always been important to Sun Life Financial? When did it become imperative to be LGBT-friendly?
As soon as we launched our diversity initiatives in 2006, we’ve always had LGBT be a topic at the table. The company has definitely embraced it from the very beginning of our stages of launching our diversity initiatives. Before that, we’ve always been open to not just LGBT, but any community as well.

Q. What advice/tips do you have for other companies and workplaces to retain their LGBT employees?
It’s not just diversity. Inclusion is also very important. It’s hard to de-couple the two because you need to make sure that you’re not just there but that you have a voice and a place at the table. And I think we do that really well here, and feeling that you have that place is really important to retaining employees. I think it all starts with having an inclusive culture where you are not just here, but you are here and heard.

This article has been sponsored by:
Diversity & Inclusion at Sodexo