Michael J. Chamberlain, VP, Global Marketing
Alixandra Pollack, Director, Research,
and Regional Director, Mexico & Latin America
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees constitute a sizeable global workforce population, and more than ever, leading companies are acknowledging their contributions. With many global organizations now focused on building inclusive cultures in which all employees feel engaged and valued, LGBT issues are becoming a critical priority in workplaces around the world.
Global progress on LGBT inclusion has been most noticeable in countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Japan and Taiwan have also recently introduced antidiscrimination legislation regarding sexual orientation in the workplace. Yet, in some countries, there are no legal protections for LGBT employees, and it’s common to hear that corporate LGBT inclusion policies “don’t apply.” This results in more discrimination, employee fear, high turnover, and heightened rates of harassment and mistreatment of LGBT workers.
Research has correlated LGBT rights with stronger economic performance. In fact, economic development agencies, including the World Bank, say that countries that make efforts to fully include all people—whether they are LGBT or from other marginalized groups—are likely to have stronger and more vibrant economies.
We can’t underestimate the important role that corporations play in the adoption of more LGBT-inclusive practices in the communities where they operate. Here are some corporate global best practices Catalyst has tracked.
Google views inclusion of its LGBT employees—affectionately referred to as “Gayglers”— as imperative in its workplaces all over the world. The Gayglers Employee Resource Group launched in the United States in 2007 and expanded globally, reaching the Asia-Pacific region first in Australia and Japan. The Gayglers ERG arrived in India in 2010. The strength of Google’s LGBT inclusion activities and its proactive support of the LGBT community aided in the Gayglers’ process of global expansion. While uniform support across the company is an essential factor in the Gayglers group’s success, local cultural sensitivities do vary considerably across regions, impacting the relevance and acceptability of programs.
TD Bank has long focused on diversity and inclusion efforts. The company’s Diversity Office and Diversity Leadership Council are composed of senior business leaders across TD who drive enterprise-wide diversity initiatives. These leaders work with businesses to embed diversity and inclusion into everyday practices and programs. They also set its strategies and communicate frequently about the importance of diversity and inclusion for all employees. The Diversity Councils in Canada and the U.S. include an LGBTA committee and an employee Pride network was launched in 2005. TD uses employee focus groups to gather insight into the needs of TD employees in the LGBTA community. Focus groups provide a forum for employees who have identified as LGBT to share experiences, identify barriers, and generate actionable solutions. To better address the needs of the transgender community specifically, TD created the TD Workplace Gender Transition Guidelines, a detailed, 10-page document available company-wide and posted on the intranet for all employees to access. This tool, which has been successfully leveraged since 2010, is intended to help ease the transition process for employees who have made the decision to transition in the workplace.
PRIDE, Chevron’s LGBT employee network, was developed as a grassroots employee effort. The group has evolved over its more than 20-year history to collaborate with other internal and external partners to build cross-cultural awareness among employees and to support Chevron’s efforts to attract and retain the best talent. Like all employee networks at Chevron, PRIDE is connected to the Office of Global Diversity, and is closely aligned with Chevron’s values of “people, partnership and performance.”
What best practices have you observed from global companies? How have LGBT-inclusive programs or policies made a global impact in your company?
To learn more about LGBT and other inclusive initiatives at Sodexo, please visit our Global Diversity and Inclusion Report