The top 17 LGBTQ friendly employers have been announced in the global workplace equality index, by European LGBTQ charity Stonewall.
In its ninth year, the Global Workplace Equality Index is a leading global benchmark of what it’s like for LGBTQ staff working in multinational organisations.
This year 17 global brands have been recognised for their outstanding commitment to LGBT employment equality globally.
On the list are, Accenture, Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie, BP, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Dentons, Fidelity International, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, GSK, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, HSBC, NatWest, Pinsent Masons, Simmons & Simmons, Vodafone and Zurich Insurance Group.
The multinationals are assessed by Stonewall, based in the U.K., on everything from their employee policies, training, and staff engagement to their on the ground, in-country activity.
Special awards have also been given to five of the employers, whose work stands out in different areas:
- Global LGBT Network Award: Allen & Overy’s A&Out Network
- Global Ally Programme Award: HSBC
- Global Community Engagement Award: Accenture
- Global Senior Champion Award: Igor Ostrowski, Dentons
- Global Trans Inclusion Award: Baker McKenzie
The list comes at a time when 70 countries still criminalise being LGBTQ, and 120 countries don’t have any laws protecting LGBT people from employment discrimination. Of these, LGBT+ people are being killed in 12 countries who have the death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults.
This international environment is, however, always changing. Indeed, while some improve rights, globally transgender rights in particular, are in a recession.
The charity hopes the list is a message to companies everywhere, that they must ensure that their LGBTQ employees feel included and supported across the board.
“While some countries moved forward this year, like Gabon, who decriminalised same-sex relationships, others, like Poland and Hungary, have rowed back the rights of LGBT people.” Stonewall Chief Executive, Nancy Kelley says. “All of this has been happening while we are still living through a global pandemic. One that’s hitting some LGBT people harder than others.”
“That’s why it’s crucial for companies like our top global employers to step up and make sure their LGBT staff and customers are looked after. Multinational companies have a powerful part to play in driving equality and progress in society.”
Stonewall runs the scheme at national levels too, recently launching in India.
Earlier in the year the charity also announced Newcastle Council as the U.K.’s most friendly LGBTQ employer.
How can you make sure your employer is on the list next year?
Amid this complex picture, it may feel like multinational companies are unable to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to LGBTQ inclusion. And though individual and country-level approaches count, there are some changes you can introduce globally. For example, to give employees rights in your company, in a way their country may not provide for:
‘The first step for any multinational business should be a robust anti-discrimination policy,” Pete Mercer, Stonewall’s Head of Global Partnerships tells me.
“It should explicitly protect staff on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and making sure this policy applies everywhere globally.
“Global companies should also look at having at least one designated global ‘champion’ appointed for LGBTQ inclusion at a senior level to ensure that there is oversight of this work.
“Organisations should then undertake an internal review to assess their policies, procedures and broader practice against LGBTQ inclusion standards.
“But a final key ingredient in embarking on this work is to ensure that the voices and experiences LGBTQ employees within the organisation are centred in this journey. So businesses need to support the development of LGBTQ network groups, and consult with members when looking to enhance the organisation’s practice concerning LGBTQ inclusion.”
However, Mercer is clear that it is not just a top-level approach that is needed; all staff have a responsibility to take action.
“LGBTQ inclusion is everyone’s responsibility: the everyday actions of employees at all levels can make a massive difference to the experience of LGBTQ colleagues. In the first instance, employees should take a proactive approach to learn more about LGBTQ identities to ensure any steps taken are as informed and as inclusive as possible.
“Then showing visible commitments are a simple way of demonstrating that LGBTQ colleagues can rely on your support. Stating your pronouns during introductions and adding them to your email signature is a quick and easy way of reminding people not to make assumptions about people’s gender and helps to create an environment in which trans colleagues feel more comfortable to be themselves.”
“Remember that if you’re working in a large multinational organisation, colleagues in overseas locations are working in different contexts. These may vary when it comes to the LGBTQ experience, so be willing to share resources with these colleagues, invite them to virtual events and offer your open-ended support.”