Why LGBTI Equality Still a Distant Dream at the Workplace WEF and global businesses joined hands at Davos to accelerate workplace inclusion of LGBTI community

By Komal Nathani

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A lot has been said, discussed and written about LGBTI inclusion in the workplace, but the discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter communities still persists. This year's World Economic Forum (WEF) asks a relevant question: "Are we there yet."

"No, we are not," answers the chief of UN Human Rights Commission on the Forum.

Research reports and surveys by companies like EY and WEF have shown how an inclusive workforce can do wonders for an organization. As businesses compete for talent, expand into new markets and accelerate innovation, diversity and inclusiveness bring a competitive advantage. Unless people are not valued for who they are, they will not be able to create high-performing teams and deliver clients with a better creative approach.

Realizing this as an important issue, WEF, along with companies like Microsoft, Mastercard, Salesforce and Deutsche Bank, has launched a platform to accelerate workplace inclusion of LGBTI community worldwide.

Here's what is hindering inclusivity in the workplace and how the inclusion of LGBTI community can be accelerated.

Fear of disclosing the Identity

While speaking on how to promote LGBTI inclusion practice, Deutsche Bank's Karl Von Rohr talked about how the fear of disclosing identity still exists and how can that be overcome by an employer in a company.

Rohr emphasized on the role of leadership in this situation. He said, "You need a strong senior support for the topics like this. As when leaders don't talk about the topic, it will be difficult to make a spread."

Leaders should ensure the safety with the changing mindset and psychology for it, he added.

It starts by putting in place a system in the HR department of the organization. He said that everything matters, from words used for a community to respect them. "But you have to make people take charge of inclusivity in workplace as you can't do it alone," said Rohr.

Rohr quoted a report by Deutsche Bank saying, "82 per cent of consumers want to buy products from LGBTI inclusive workplace."

The importance

The WEF launched a Global Competitiveness Report in October last year, where it gave a holistic view on what competitiveness actually means. It included a new updated methodology that tries to take an account of social equality, the value of technology when measuring competitiveness, which stated, competitiveness can only occur in the countries where there is opportunity for all. It includes the rights of women, LGBTI community and all the other communities as well.

Giving the context of the report, Saadia Zahidi, head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society and a member of WEF, said, "We have an opportunity to take this movement to another level which can only happen with the collaboration of private and public collaborations."

Citing better ways to accelerate the inclusion of LGBTI community, she added, "Private sector has a vital role to play in LGBTI inclusion. What we can do is sensitize managers, equalize community, and the outcome will be there."

How to end discrimination

While a lot companies are trying to imbibe the policies and practices to make their organizations LGBTI inclusive, employers are struggling to create a culture of equality. Michelle Bachelet, chief of the UN Human Rights Commission, says, "C-level commitment can stimulate the change."

"This C-level commitment goes beyond signing up for this. You have to set the right tone from the top as leadership commitment is very important," Bachelet said.

She added that we have to keep moving on from diversity to inclusion to equality, and the real progress comes from the grassroot level. "If businesses have to bring this change, the leadership commitment can prevent discrimination against genders."

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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