This year, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of Equal at McKinsey, McKinsey’s LGBTQ+ network. What started with a handful of colleagues in 1995 now includes an increasingly diverse group of 6,000 LGBTQ+ colleagues and formal allies worldwide. Eight Equal at McKinsey founders reflect on their favorite memories and what Equal at McKinsey means to them.
John DeVincentis (Washington, DC & New York, 1982-1998)
"Helping to found Equal at McKinsey was one of the most meaningful and important undertakings of my life. It seems inconceivable now, but before Equal at McKinsey, the firm could feel very isolating for LGBTQ+ colleagues. We led very closeted lives, and while we were out selectively to close friends and colleagues, our personal lives were kept secret and apart from our professional lives.
I remember the first Equal at McKinsey dinner vividly. The stories of varying conditions around the firm were quite moving, but what really struck me was the intensity of commitment and resolve to make changes, such as health benefits for same-sex partners and open recruiting practices. Equal at McKinsey has had an incredible impact on the firm and on me. I am awestruck by how much progress the firm has made to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all genders. It’s better now than we ever imagined at the outset."
Where is John now?
John established an independent consultancy when he left McKinsey in 1998, continuing his focus on sales and marketing. He is mostly retired, but conducts an occasional sales excellence workshop or small project for clients.
He married his husband, Dennis, in 2014, when it became legal to do so in Pennsylvania (after their 31-year engagement). They bought an apartment in Rome in 2012, and now spend spring and fall in Italy, and winter and summer in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Jack Stephenson (New York, 1984-2008; San Francisco, 2019-present)
"Having been a founding member of Equal at McKinsey, I saw firsthand the power of McKinsey to create meaningful, positive change in the world. We were one of the earliest LGBTQ+ leaders in business and brought many others along with us. Looking ahead, I would encourage Equal at McKinsey members to keep pushing the boundaries in terms of raising awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity issues and driving change in parts of the world most hostile to our community."
Where is Jack now?
Since leaving McKinsey 12 years ago, Jack has worked at PayPal, JPMorgan Chase and Fiserv, mostly leading digital, strategy and innovation. He returned to McKinsey as a senior advisor in the Payments practice, which he co-founded in 1994. Jack has a long history working with conservation and environmental organizations and has served on the boards of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Society.
Ian Tidswell (Stamford, 1994-1998)
"Equal at McKinsey was important in 1995, as it demonstrated the normality of gay people at work. ‘We aren't so different’ was an important message. Today, I see the role Equal at McKinsey plays in two areas: one is to promote diversity in the more open and inclusive parts of the world where it doesn't matter how you present yourself and the quality of your character and contributions matter most. Diversity can be a struggle for everyone, but we shouldn't forget that the "G" in Equal at McKinsey stands for grow, and that’s the start. Secondly, Equal at McKinsey exists to promote LGBTQ+ acceptance in those parts of the world where it is not yet well accepted; LGBTQ+ individuals in these places still lead very difficult lives and need our voices and actions of support most of all."
Where is Ian now?
Ian lives in Basel, Switzerland and founded a boutique firm called een Consulting. After leaving McKinsey, Ian found his passion in pricing. He loves the mix of economics, psychology, strategy and ethics within the field. He is still energized by solving complex problems, and he enjoys figuring out how pricing can help society develop sustainably, rather than just maximizing company profits in the current quarter.
Brian Rolfes (Toronto, 1995 – current)
"Having just joined the firm in 1995, I was one of the lowest-tenure folks to help start Equal at McKinsey. I heard a group of LGBTQ+ colleagues were meeting in Washington, DC to consider what – if anything – we should do to advance inclusion & diversity within McKinsey. Though I had just come out personally and professionally in the previous year or two, this was really important to me. I joined McKinsey having been a human rights lawyer and wannabe academic; helping to create Equal at McKinsey felt like a natural extension of that calling. Initially, I never thought I’d still be at McKinsey all these years later to witness and lead Equal at McKinsey as it grew from those initial 13 founding members to more than a 1,000 LGBTQ+ colleagues and an additional 5,000 formal Equal at McKinsey Allies. It is truly inspiring!"
Where is Brian now?
Brian leads global recruiting for McKinsey, over-seeing all strategic and operational talent acquisition matters for the firm. In that role, he has been instrumental in leading McKinsey to found and/or sponsor organizations including Reaching Out MBA, OUBC (US), Start Proud (Canada), Sticks & Stones (Germany), Stonewall (UK), EurOut (London), and Out for Australia. He has helped take internal Day of Pink celebrations to more than 130 offices, including Istanbul, Kazakhstan, Poznan, Hong Kong, and Manila.
In the broader community, Brian helped launch McKinsey’s LGBTQ+ Executive Masterclass, a pro-bono two-day workshop for senior leaders in any sector, and helped start The Alliance, a network of senior LGBTQ+ executives committed to driving inclusivity worldwide. In addition to leading recruiting, he advises some clients on diversity & inclusion best practices. Brian leads the Ontario Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee and sits on the Board of Directors of the Stratford Festival Theatre. In 2018, Brian was included in the Financial Times OUTstanding list of LGBTQ+ leaders. He and his husband Brad were one of the first gay couples married in Canada.
Omar Rodriguez (Mexico City & New York, 1981-1986 & New York, 1989-1998, 2004-2016)
"In 1995, John De Vincentis and I had a conversation about the lack of spouse-like health benefits for LGBTQ+ firm members. Through very discrete networking we located a small group of folks who were willing to pursue this in the open. To do so required that some of us would have to come out publicly. He and I were the first partners willing to do so. We had meetings with people in personnel leadership. They were surprised and initially hesitant regarding our request. We then talked to McKinsey’s Managing Partner at the time, who suggested we make a proposal to the committee that elected partners. John and I gladly took the opportunity and, with the assistance of the founding Equal at McKinsey members, prepared a presentation. In my 33 years of service at McKinsey, this is the achievement of which I am the proudest."
Where is Omar now?
Omar joined McKinsey in 1981 and retired in 2016. He worked as a consultant in Mexico City, Iberia, New York, and Caracas. In 1989 he became the associate director of firmwide training. He also organized and ran what was known as the Practice Olympics (now called the New Ventures competition) from 1996 until his retirement in 2016.
Omar lives in New York with Glen, his partner of 28 years, whom he married in a Jewish wedding ceremony seven years ago. Omar has been an actor for many years. His credits include the TV series Law and Order, The Sopranos and Unforgettable, and the films Frida and Che. In addition, Omar is a lifelong philatelist. His stamp collections won the USA Champion of Champions in 2004, the Grand Prix International in 2006 and more than 100 other awards.
Alan Miles (New York, 1992-2001)
"Looking back, it is hard to believe how different things were at McKinsey in the early 90’s. AIDS was a death sentence. Those of us who were LGBTQ+ knew one another secretly and by chance. I did something radical that I thought was quite ordinary: I put a picture of me and my boyfriend on my desk. When a candidate from Harvard Business School got an offer to join McKinsey and asked to speak to a gay partner, the recruiter turned to me because she knew no other openly gay partners or consultants. This situation motivated a group of us to be more visible to bring about changes, including health benefits for same-sex partners, recognition of our unions, the right to publicize our existence through official firm channels, and to recruit openly LGBTQ+ people from campus. Equal at McKinsey became our safe space, our private club, our fierce little tribe fighting the good fight. It kept me sane and gave my work and life an added purpose and mission."
Where is Alan now?
Alan worked at McKinsey serving clients in the media industry from 1992 until 2001. Since then his career has spanned strategy and finance roles at media conglomerates, ad agencies, and Wall Street. He currently serves as the executive vice president of Global Strategic Partnerships at Nielsen and is on the boards of NCSolutions, Housing Works, and the NGPA. An avid traveler, he has visited 84 countries, but his happiest moments are marrying his husband, Drew Glick, on the first day of marriage equality in NYC in 2011 and getting his pilot license in 2017. Drew and Alan live in New York and Miami.
Paul Kennedy (San Francisco & Melbourne, 1973-77; New York, 1981-1995)
"Equal at McKinsey initially expanded from a small group of consultants who were friends with each other, to publicly mentoring many others starting on the East Coast (of North America) and moving beyond. Building trust with colleagues and clients through honest self-disclosure was quite challenging back then at the height of the AIDS crisis. Thus, sharing experiences and feelings was extremely valuable to all of us in the Equal at McKinsey network."
Where is Paul now?
After leaving McKinsey in the late 90s, Paul stayed heavily involved as faculty in McKinsey learning programs, counseling many associates around the world. Currently, Paul is an executive coach, but is mostly retired and lives in New York City with his partner of 20 years, John Marsh. He still spends time in the San Francisco Bay area where he first joined McKinsey in 1973.
Seth Radwell (New York, 1989-1996)
"Today it is hard to imagine how conservative McKinsey was in the early 1990s. When I joined the New York office in 1989 no one discussed LGBTQ+ issues and we also wore suits and ties every day and didn’t have cell phones. When clients or other firm members asked about life outside the work context, I would often hear things like, ‘Did you spend the weekend with your wife? Do you have kids? If you’d like, you can bring your wife/girlfriend to this firm dinner.’ Having to reply with vague responses or even lies was exhausting emotionally. We all knew people “like us” existed at the firm, but it was on the down low as it was many places in the business world. That changed starting in 1992 when a few of us began discussing forming a group that would be open and transparent about our lives at the firm. It took us a few years to get our act together, but it was then Equal at McKinsey was born."
Where is Seth now?
Seth is a veteran consumer products and marketing executive, well regarded for his expertise in direct marketing and ecommerce. He currently is on the board of and serves as an advisor to numerous early-stage companies. Until 2018, Seth served as the CEO of The Proactiv Company, a joint-venture created in 2016 between Nestle Skin Health and Guthy Renker. Prior, he served in various C-level roles leading consumer facing companies, with particular expertise in transforming traditional marketing competencies into digital-first omnichannel marketing. He supports numerous charities in music and education.
About Equal at McKinsey
Today, Equal at McKinsey is an increasingly diverse global community of our LGBTQ+ colleagues and the Equal at McKinsey Allies network of supportive colleagues. During this Pride Month, McKinsey has a lot of which to be proud. The firm has evolved significantly in its internal policies and practices, research, sponsorships, and partnerships in support of LBGTQ+ inclusion and has helped drive discussion and progress. McKinsey is also proud of earning a perfect score of 100 in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index every year since 2006, when we first joined the survey.
While 25 years is a great milestone to celebrate, we are most excited to plan for and see the progress we can continue to make in our firm, with our clients and in the broader global community.
Learn more about Equal at McKinsey at McKinsey