London’s financial heart is moving away from its homophobic reputation and becoming more gay friendly, according to new research.

The number of gay people employed in City careers such as banking, finance or insurance has risen significantly since new initiatives designed to promote diversity were put in place.

Two years ago, 5.9% of City employees anonymously identified themselves as gay or lesbian, but this has risen to 8.2% in the last 12 months.

Research carried out by financial services recruiter Joslin Rowe surveyed nearly 4,000 candidates for City roles, and looked at diversity monitoring over the last two years.

Tara Ricks, managing director of Joslin Rowe Associates said:

“Traditionally the City was perceived as white, heterosexual and male, which put off many gay and lesbian applicants.

“As a result, the proportion of gay and lesbian workers was far below the national average ten years ago.

“Times have changed and diversity is now at the centre of recruitment and human resources policy.

“Many firms now actively target gay undergraduates, for example, something that was not the case five or ten years ago.

“The trend has now seen City firms grow the proportion of their staff who are gay up to 8.2% of the workforce, overtaking the current national average of 5.9%.”

The government estimates that 6% of the UK population is lesbian or gay, but London’s gay population is thought to be nearer to 10%.

Although the City has narrowed the gap in the last four years, there is still not cause for complacency.

There are 16,000 fewer gay or lesbian employees in the industry compared to the mix of London’s general population.

In Joslin Rowe’s research, women in the City were far less likely to identify themselves (even anonymously) than men as gay.