Posted by: Rainbow411 / GSHRadio on 11/06/2017

10 Companies Leading the Way on Global LGBTI Rights

10 Companies Leading the Way on Global LGBTI Rights


Photo: Shutterstock 

In the last decade, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people around the globe have witnessed incredible progress in both legal reforms and shifting social attitudes. Indeed, over 100 of the United Nations’ member states have reformed legislation and enacted measures protecting the rights of LGBTI* people.

While local, state, and federal employment protections have sometimes lagged behind in the U.S. (you can still be fired for being LGBT in 28 states), corporate America has led the way in fighting discrimination in the workplace. The Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index, which rates workplaces on their progress toward LGBT equality, was founded in 2002 and has since encouraged corporations to adopt antidiscrimination policies, increase their LGBT recruitment, and establish queer-inclusive corporate practices. As of 2017, HRC reports that the vast majority (89 percent) of Fortune 500 companies have adopted LGBT nondiscrimination policies.

Still, standards of legal protection for LGBTI people vary from country to country. In fact, 73 U.N. member states continue to criminalize same-sex relationships, fail to protect queer people from discrimination or outright violence, or target transgender people for simply exhibiting gender variance. It’s clear that some political leaders ignore or even encourage deep-rooted stigmas and negative stereotypes that poison cultural beliefs and ultimately lead to discrimination in the workplace and other public spheres. (And of course, there’s the United States, where many political gains of the past few decades are now under attack.)

To help combat global human rights abuses, labor exploitation, employment discrimination, corruption, and environmental degradation, the U.N. launched the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, the Global Compact, back in 2010. A year later, the U.N. Human Rights Council endorsed the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” which posited that every business on the planet has a responsibility to respect human rights by addressing all the impacts of their corporate operations on humankind and the world at large.

The “Guiding Principles” included instruction that they “be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner, with particular attention to the rights and needs of, as well as the challenges faced by, individuals from groups or populations that may be at heightened risk of becoming vulnerable or marginalized.”

Building upon these principles, the U.N. Human Rights Office, in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Business, has now developed “Five Standards of Conduct” to support the business community in tackling discrimination against LGBTI people. These standards reflect the input of hundreds of companies across diverse sectors and have been adopted by companies like Accenture, IKEA, Microsoft, Gap, Coca-Cola, Baker McKenzie, and BNP Paribas — all of which were early adopters of the 2011 principles and received top ratings on the 2017 HRC Corporate Equality Index.

This year, the Corporate Equality Index saw a record 515 employers earning a top rating of 100 percent (the largest jump in top-rated businesses in a single year in the history of the CEI). That number is likely to increase as other companies embrace the five standards advocated by the U.N., which includes “developing policies to ensure they respect human rights of LGBTI people,” providing an affirmative work environment, and using their leverage to prevent discrimination (see The United Nations’ “Five Standards of Conduct” below for the full standards).

*Editor’s Note: Globally, the inclusion of intersex people in the LGBT community is common; thus the United Nations uses the initialism LGBTI. The Advocate’s house style is LGBT (right now, at least) but as the U.N. is pushing increased intersex visibility, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also use LGBTI in this story. That’s the spirit in which we’ve used LGBTI, which we’ve done except when a company, article, or study uses a specific different initialism. (For example, IKEA’s media documents use LGBT+ when talking about our communities.)

10 Businesses Leading the Way

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