Big businesses partner for global LGBTI equality

New global business initiative provides a platform to accelerate LGBTI equality and inclusion worldwide, backed by the WEF.

An ambitious new global partnership to accelerate inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people was launched at the World Economic Forum’s ( WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos this week.

The initiative led by Accenture, Deutsche Bank, EY, Mastercard, Microsoft, Omnicom and Salesforce, in collaboration with the WEF, is asking for global companies to tackle LGBTI discrimination at work by 2020.

The Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality calls for companies to commit to enforcing workforce equality and operationalise the UN LGBTI Standards of Conduct, which establishes the human rights and policy operating model framework for companies.

By 2020, the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality will:

• Enlist 50-100 companies from World Economic Forum members and beyond to join the project to implement UN LGBTI Standards.

• Create a due-diligence framework for corporations to use in assessing the alignment of their policies with the Standards and to better understand the practical impact of their policies on LGBTI people.

 • Develop a repository of LGBTI best practices and case studies from companies across multiple sectors, sharing insights and information on effective strategies, policies and processes for gathering the information needed to ensure LGBTI people are not being discriminated against when it comes to hiring, retaining and promoting employees.

 • Encourage new cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaborations. 

>See also: How can organisations support and recognise LGBT+ talent?

View from the C-Suite

“The companies involved in this initiative are leading by example when it comes to the rights of LGBTQ people in the context of employment, and I support their efforts to extend the initiative to a greater number of private sector actors, as well as to engage with civil society.”

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights  

“LGBTI inclusion is not only the right thing to do from an interpersonal point of view, it is also a business imperative because CEO’s recognize that a culture of equality creates trust, innovation and therefore business growth. As business leaders we need to set the right tone at the top and combine this with concrete actions to stimulate LGBTI grass roots networks in our companies and policies that ensure equality across the entire organization. Twenty-five percent of our people at Accenture are now active, visible and vocal allies to the LGBTI community – but we cannot effect change on our own. Now, more than ever, is the time for business to step up!”  Sander van ‘t Noordende, Group Chief Executive Products at Accenture.

“Deutsche Bank congratulates the World Economic Forum for making LGBTI issues part of their agenda. We are proud to support this work. We believe that if we take an inclusive approach to different perspectives and identities, we become more meritocratic, attract and retain a rich diversity of talent, and make better business decisions. While we recognize there is more work to do across businesses, institutions and communities, we are steadfast in our commitment to doing our part. The focus of the WEF on LGBTI issues will underline the value to the global economy of a more inclusive society.”

Karl Von Rohr, President, Member of the Management Board, Deutsche Bank AG

“EY is honoured to be one of the founding members of this initiative and commends the World Economic Forum for making LGBTI equality and economic inclusion a top priority. When you have an inclusive culture where everyone is valued equally and feels they can be the best version of themselves, you can fuel innovation, solve complex challenges and achieve better results. By advancing this agenda in our global workplaces, multinationals can create a ripple effect that promotes societal change.”
Beth Brooke-Marciniak, EY Global Vice Chair – Public Policy

“At Mastercard, we are laser focused on creating a culture of decency, inclusion and belonging where employees feel valued and respected because of their diversity – not in spite of it. When done right, it inspires a passion and pride that drives innovation and better business results. This partnership shines an important spotlight to help others realize that acceptance matters to their people, their businesses and the world.”

Randall Tucker, Chief Inclusion Officer, Mastercard  

“For more than 30 years, Microsoft has actively worked on LGBTI issues on behalf of our employees worldwide. We applaud the World Economic Forum’s new Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality and look forward to putting our commitment into action to advance equality everywhere we work and live.” Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft

“Omnicom is committed to fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces where all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, feel comfortable and confident in bringing their whole selves to work. Across our global network of communications and marketing consultancies, we promote awareness, acceptance and advocacy of the LGBTI community by engaging the community and its allies and creating opportunities for leadership, visibility, community involvement, networking and business development. It’s an honour to serve as a founding member of this important initiative to lay the groundwork for worldwide acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTI community in the global workforce.” Tiffany R. Warren, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom Group

“Salesforce is committed to advocating for equality in the communities we serve and believe that business is a powerful platform for social change. We have and will continue to use our voice to advocate for LGBTQ rights, and are inspired by the potential lasting impact of this multi-stakeholder partnership. We are proud of WEF for their leadership, and of our founding partners for making this a priority. Together, we will build a more inclusive society and drive equality for all.”

Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer, Salesforce

“According to the Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, open, inclusive and diverse societies are also more innovative, which in turn leads to greater economic growth. Through this project, we aim to provide a platform for leaders from the private sector to accelerate the process towards LGBTI inclusion globally,” Saadia Zahidi, Member of the Managing Board and Head of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society

>See also: LGBT inclusion post-Brexit: Why diversity is crucial now more than ever before