Year One of HRC’s Groundbreaking Global Business Coalition and Engagement

Post submitted by: Deena Fidas, Director of Workplace Equality & Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global 

This spring we witnessed an unprecedented wave of support from the business community as nearly 200 anti-LGBTQ bills proliferated across a majority of the U.S. While North Carolina and other states may dominate the headlines, there is amazing work happening globally with respect to the business community promoting equality. LGBTQ equality will continue to expand globally, as evidenced by a banner year of investment and participation around the globe through HRC’s Global Business Coalition.

One year ago today, HRC President Chad Griffin stood shoulder to shoulder with Bill Clinton and business leaders at the annual Clinton Global Initiative to unveil HRC’s groundbreaking  Global Business Coalition. It was an ambitious proposition – leverage HRC’s vast network of committed businesses and global network of LGBTQ civil society leaders to further our shared goals of equality worldwide.

It’s been quite a year!

Here are the top five moments in year one of HRC’s global engagement and work with the Global Business Coalition.

Interested in being part of Year 2?   Join so you can be part of a special recognition of the Coalition during the launch of the Corporate Equality Index later this year and begin to receive exclusive briefings, resources and peer-to-peer engagement

1) HRC’s First International Launch of the Corporate Equality Index

HRC’s First International Launch of the Corporate Equality Index

In November 2015, HRC partnered with the U.S. Embassy, Dow and other businesses to launch our first-ever international Corporate Equality Index in Mexico City during an event held in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy and Pride Connection, a consortium of Mexican LGBT workplace advocates.  HRC has been working with these companies and other partners in Mexico City, including the American Chamber of Commerce, on how the U.S. business community can help drive positive changes for LGBTQ workplace inclusion throughout Mexico.

2) LGBTQ Roundtable at World Economic Forum

LGBTQ Roundtable at World Economic Forum

As world leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland in January 2016 for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, HRC partnered with Microsoft and Skybridge Capital to host a roundtable discussion on LGBT equality.

The conversation, which included longtime LGBT ally Vice President Joe Biden, highlighted the unique influence of the private sector to create a culture of inclusion around the globe and celebrated the pro-equality efforts of the businesses represented around the table.  A full video of the roundtable can be viewed here, filmed by the Huffington Post. HRC President Chad Griffin wrote an op-ed explaining the crucial role that businesses are playing in the global equality movement. Several key partners also penned op-eds, including Alcoa, Microsoft and EY.  A full video of the roundtable can be viewed here, filmed by the Huffington Post.

3) HRC Equality Convention

Samantha Power

In March 2016 hundreds of HRC volunteers and leaders gathered in Washington, DC, for the annual HRC Equality Convention featured plenaries on global equality. First, perspectives from two of the highest-ranking out lesbians in the corporate sector – Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, EY and Shamina Singh, Executive Director of the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth. They were joined by HRC’s Director of the Workplace Equality Program Deena Fidas and Ty Cobb, HRC Global Director for an in-depth discussion of what it means to be out in today’s corporate climate and ways in which businesses are acting as leaders in the global equality movement. Second, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers delivered a heartfelt keynote speech advocating for the continued fight to end discrimination against LGBT people around the world. In addition, a new video highlighting HRC’s global equality work in the corporate sector was also premiered during the session.  

4) Pride Connection Inaugural Summit in Mexico City

The work of HRC’s partners in Mexico City continued in May 2016 with an incredible showing of support in the pride parade route. Representatives from the U.S. Embassy were joined by dozens of top-rated CEI businesses and members of HRC’s Global Business Coalition that have formed a local consortium of LGBT-inclusive companies called Pride Connection.

Newly stationed U.S. Ambassador Roberta Jacobson marched in the parade and mingled with parade-goers throughout the day. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico has hosted the Workplace Equality Program several times and continues to further our shared goals of equality by convening corporate partners, civil society and HRC for dialogue, workshops and projects.

Following the first international launch of the Corporate Equality Index last fall in Mexico City, the Workplace Equality team returned to participate in Pride Connection’s inaugural summit on LGBT inclusion. The daylong summit brought over 200 corporate leaders and experts together for a bi-lingual sharing of the latest research and executive perspectives on the business case for LGBT inclusion.

Mary Beth Maxwell, senior vice president for programs, research and training, moderated an executive panel on the lived experiences and career insights from LGBT and allied leaders, Marianne Hasold-Schilter, executive vice president & chief administrative officer, International Banking; Andrew Wilson, chief information officer, Accenture; Tony Tenicela, global leader, Workforce Diversity and LGBT Markets, IBM; and, Louis Vega, chief of staff and global director at The Dow Chemical Company.

Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program, presented on the genesis of the Corporate Equality Index and “La Inclusión LGBT: El Caso de Negocio,” or “LGBT Inclusion: The Business Case.”

The summit comes after several years of work across HRC, the U.S. Embassy and the tremendous advocates within the Pride Connection companies, as well civil society leaders. On its own it was an achievement, but also reflects the years of partnership and expanded work ahead to move equality forward. And for more progress, check out our recent launch of HRC Equidad MX: Global Workplace Equality Program, a groundbreaking new program that will work to promote LGBTQ workplace inclusion throughout Mexico.

5) Global Equality Summit in Vietnam (Pictured above)

In June, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, HRC hosted a global equality summit in Vietnam. The summit brought together corporate allies, civil society leaders and local diplomatic community members to advance local efforts on LGBTQ workplace inclusion and business engagement.

U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius welcomed the attendees during a reception at his residence. He stressed the importance of shared learning and highlighted the opportunity for collaboration between the private sector and LGBTQ civil society in the U.S. and Vietnam. Ambassador Osius is one of seven openly gay U.S. ambassadors currently serving overseas. Ahead of President Obama’s recent trip to Vietnam, PBS Newshour highlighted Osius’s family and work as ambassador.

At the summit, representatives from multinational corporations including Disney, Cargill, Citibank, KPMG and Baker McKenzie learned about current LGBTQ community initiatives in Vietnam, shared their commitment to diversity and inclusion and discussed future collaboration.

As part of the summit, HRC hosted a civil society workshop that included leaders from ICS, iSee, Viet Pride, Hanoi Queer, 6+, NexGen and PFLAG. The participants discussed models for advancing LGBTQ workplace inclusion, including HRC’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI), and shared information on ongoing Vietnamese efforts like Viet Pride’s Equal Office and Hanoi Queer’s Queer Zone. Nguyen Thanh Tam of Viet Pride, whom HRC recognized as a Global Innovator earlier in the year at our inaugural Global Innovative Advocacy Summit, was in attendance.

At the conclusion of the summit, the U.S. embassy announced a new grant to support local civil society efforts to strengthen engagement between the LGBTQ community and business. HRC will provide technical assistance and additional capacity building to support the grant recipient.

Thank you to all of our incredible partners! If your company is interested see how you can  join the Coalition ahead of the launch of the Corporate Equality Index later this year and begin to receive exclusive briefings, resources and peer-to-peer engagement. We’ve got an exciting 2017 planned!