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Lloyd’s first openly bisexual CEO on receiving abuse: ‘You should die’

Josh Jackman October 8, 2018
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Lloyds of London Chief Executive Officer, Inga Beale poses for a photograph in her office in the City of London on March 30, 2017, following an interview with AFP. Lloyd's of London will open a Brussels subsidiary in early 2019, the historic insurance market said Thursday, the first company to respond to Britain's decision to trigger Brexit. Lloyd's, which employs 700 people in the British capital, will start work at the Brussels office from January 1, 2019. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Dame Inga Beale (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty)

The first woman and openly bisexual CEO of Lloyd’s of London has opened up about the hate she received in the job — including from inside the company.

Dame Inga Beale broke barriers which had stood for more than three centuries when she was appointed in 2014, but said that the “rude, sexist and homophobic” backlash to these advances was swift.

Her revelations came as a survey found that nearly three-quarters — 72 percent — of LGBT+ people have experienced mental health issues because of work.

Beale was sent abusive messages (ingabeale/twitter)

And according to a study published earlier this year by the Human Rights Campaign, nearly half of LGBT+ people — 46 percent — don’t reveal their sexuality at work.

Beale, who is leaving her position this week, told The Times that one letter she was sent read: “You don’t deserve to be on the planet; you should go and die.”

She said that some of these hateful messages were composed by Lloyd’s male brokers and underwriters.

Lloyd's CEO Inga Beale attends a session during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 24, 2015 in Davos. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Beale is the first female CEO of Lloyd’s since it was established more than 300 years ago (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty)

“Anonymous messages were sent to the chairman about me, and some emails and letters were sent directly to me,” Beale revealed.

“They were rude, sexist and homophobic. Some had swearing.”

Beale didn’t allow the abuse stop her from doing her job, she said, explaining: “My way of coping was immediately to delete the emails and throw away the letters so it didn’t prevent me from moving forward.”

The CEO, who came out as bi in 2008 and is now married to Swiss goldsmith Philippe Pfeiffer, said she also faces ignorance over her choice of spouse, including from within the LGBT+ community.

Lloyds of London Chief Executive Officer, Inga Beale poses for a photograph in her office in the City of London on March 30, 2017, following an interview with AFP. Lloyd's of London will open a Brussels subsidiary in early 2019, the historic insurance market said Thursday, the first company to respond to Britain's decision to trigger Brexit. Lloyd's, which employs 700 people in the British capital, will start work at the Brussels office from January 1, 2019. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Beale has been CEO for nearly five years (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty)

“People say: ‘Well, now you’re married to a man, doesn’t that just make you a heterosexual woman?'” said Beale.

“Suddenly I’ve got a man and half your lesbian friends don’t socialise with you anymore. You’re excluded from that group.”

The trailblazer will be replaced by John Neal, whose pay was docked 550,000 Australian dollars (around £300,000) by the country’s largest insurer, QBE, after he failed to disclose his relationship with his executive assistant.

Speaking about this move, Beale said: “All of us female chief executives, we all say: ‘We’re pretty certain that our successors are gonna be men.

Lloyds of London Chief Executive Officer, Inga Beale poses for a photograph in her office in the City of London on March 30, 2017, following an interview with AFP. Lloyd's of London will open a Brussels subsidiary in early 2019, the historic insurance market said Thursday, the first company to respond to Britain's decision to trigger Brexit. Lloyd's, which employs 700 people in the British capital, will start work at the Brussels office from January 1, 2019. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Beale said she has been ostracised by some lesbian friends since marrying her husband (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty)

“That’s how it feels. [Male chairmen think:] ‘We’ve done that [appointed a woman] so we’d better take it back.'”

She added: “I hear frequently from men, ‘I’ve appointed a woman and she’s doing an excellent job’ — and they always sound surprised.

“It’s absurd! You just wouldn’t say: ‘I’ve appointed a man and he’s actually doing a good job.’”

Lloyd’s chairman Carnegie Brown previously told the Financial Times: “When you appoint a white man after a reformer on diversity and inclusion like Inga it is going to look like a step backwards, but the onus is on us to keep the momentum going.”

Earlier this year, research by the charity Stonewall revealed that many Brits also fear coming out to colleagues.

The survey found that 35 percent of LGBT people in the UK remain in the closet to colleagues.

Related topics: bi, bisexual, business, dame inga beale, Employment, lloyd's of london, UK, work

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