HSBC Bank Canada has said it is to provide new scholarships as well as potential employment to LGBT students and straight allies at four Canadian business schools over the next four years.
The announcement comes in the wake of the upcoming Vancouver Pride Parade on Monday.
HSBC is to provide a total sum of $80,000 (£5,2917) to LGBT students and straight allies across four different schools situated in both Vancouver and Toronto.
Mike Webb, senior vice-president and head of human resources for the Vancouver-based bank, said: “Our business model is all about different perspectives and diversity.”
Mr Webb is also an executive sponsor of HSBC Canada’s internal Pride Network, whose mission statement is to promote and support an inclusive environment through progressive policies, programmes and practices.
He added: “If you look at the incredible economic impact that the LGBT community has in Canada and elsewhere, it is amazing the economic opportunity that is there.
“If you neglect it, ignore it, you are losing out on a phenomenal opportunity.”
The scholarships are to be offered to four students a year over four years at four different schools.
These schools include: Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto, Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business in Vancouver, and Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
The award claims to recognise outstanding academia in students (LGBT or straight) who demonstrate leadership and community service by participating in LGBT organisations or initiatives on campus.
Each winner is to receive $5,000 (£3,307), as well as consideration for summer internships and, after graduation, potential acceptance into management trainee programs at HSBC.
The Rotman School of Business winner for 2013 is Vincent Ho, a 20-year-old undergraduate accounting student who holds a cumulative grade point average of 3.99 out of 4 entering his third year in September.
Mr Ho is the incoming president of the Rotman Commerce Pride Alliance, one of the few LGBT-focused student groups at an undergraduate business programme in Canada.
The group provides networking for students to provide links to LGBT professionals, and works with “ally” students to bring awareness and education about LGBT diversity and other issues.
With host support from the multinational firm KPMG, his organisation runs an annual live case competition. He also volunteers for various LGBT initiatives both on and off campus.
Mr Ho, who is also now a summer intern for KPMG, said the HSBC scholarships send an important message to students and businesses.
He said: “It signals to students that big companies like HSBC want to recognise LGBTQ talent and show they are interested in having these sorts of employees on their teams because they do bring enormous diversity.
“Through that, you are able to better understand your customer and how the business works.”
In April, a US university of Missouri-Kansas City also set up a fund to help out gay students who struggle financially after rejection from their families after coming out, as well as straight students who lose funding after supporting gay classmates.
Kristi Ryujin, the university’s assistant vice chancellor for diversity said: “This year was the greatest need we’ve seen… We have a long way to go still.
“It’s really a scooping up and holding of the students, making sure they have the financial and personal support mechanisms they need to be successful.”
Amid Pride celebrations in July, the city of Vancouver unveiled rainbow street crossings to celebrate the event, and unlike similar crossings in Sydney earlier this year which were later removed, the local council said they are permanent.