OPEN Finance’s origins trace back to January 2006 when a small group of gay bankers set about contacting friends and colleagues at other firms, seeking to promote more networking in the industry. The first meeting of the Interbank Roundtable, as we were then known, was on May 25 that year, with 15 firms and four non-profits attending. By September a further three firms joined, and a networking committee was established. The first-ever Interbank Roundtable social took place in November 2006, bringing together representatives from 18 firms. Membership reached 19 firms in 2007, which ensured a strong showing of Interbank Roundtable firms at the LGBT Center’s first Out To Work Career Fair in September. Recognizing the growth of the organization, then in October a formal mission and vision statement were established.
Working through the financial crisis, the Interbank Roundtable continued to bring its members together. In December 2009, the Interbank Roundtable re-launched as IRC, adopting a new logo and growth plans. Extending our partnership with LGBT-focused non-profits, the IRC hosted the first ever Out On Deck fundraiser boat cruise, benefitting GLAAD, in 2010 – and event that would continue for four years.
In 2011, the IRC helped a host of firms adopt same-sex domestic partner benefits tax equalization, using one firm’s lead and expertise to benefit a large portion of the industry and have an impact on the broader corporate landscape in the US. This sharing of best practices quickly became a hallmark of the organization’s success, and was used on many other occasions to increase adoption of specific HR benefits, signatures on amicus briefs, and more. Indeed, so successful was this best practices sharing that in 2012, the Empire State Pride Agenda recognized IRC’s work at its Equality@Work awards.
With membership reaching 31 firms and featuring several companies outside of banking, the IRC adopted the OPEN Finance branding in 2012. The new name reflected the organization’s goals: an out professionals’ exchange network for the finance industry. By the end of the following year, a further four companies had joined. In early 2014, OPEN Finance incorporated and earned non-profit status, becoming a 501(c)(6) organization.
April 2015 saw twenty-nine firms participating in OPEN Finance sign the business amicus curiae brief for Obergefell v. Hodges.