On Thursday, June 13, the EU Delegation hosted a panel discussion at Red Bear Brewery on LGBT+ rights in business and entrepreneurship, with the Human Rights Campaign, Open for Business, Out and Equal, and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
Here are three things you need to know about protecting LGBT+ rights in the workplace:
1. We need more inclusive business practices.
Panelists addressed the need for greater attention to be paid to business practices that marginalize members of the LGBT+ community. Drew Keller, Global Program Director for Open for Business, commented that “open and inclusive environments are essential for economic growth,” noting that business performance improves in such environments. He said that “LGBT-friendly countries attract more investment and suffer from less brain drain.”
2. Benchmarking is key to convincing businesses.
Phil Crehan of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce said, “It’s one thing to argue it’s the right thing to do, but when you work with business, it’s necessary to work with numbers and explain the economic effect.” Benchmarking helps consumers hold business leaders accountable and encourages the public to spread news of discriminatory practices in particular businesses.
3. The public and private sectors must work together to protect LGBT+ rights.
It’s apparent we need more cooperation between government and business to improve LGBT+ inclusion and fight discrimination. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s also the smart thing to do economically. Deena Fidas, Managing Director of Out and Equal, said that, “There are incentives to be more inclusive. […] Our community has value…when we’re at the table, businesses benefit.”
We applaud the efforts of our panelists and all those working to fight for LBGT+ rights in the workplace and acknowledge there is a lot of work still to be done. That’s why in 2016 the EU created an action plan to tackle discrimination against LGBT+ people . The plan spans all policy areas — including education, employment, health, free movement and more — with the goal of mainstreaming LGBT+ equality.
Our commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT+ persons extends beyond Europe. We hold regular political dialogues with other countries and fund their civil society organizations. Last year, the EU launched a specific call for proposals worth €10 million to support LGBT+ organizations worldwide. Since 2016, we’ve provided more than €5.2 million to civil society projects in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Through our Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, we are also supporting LGBT+ Human Rights Defenders and their organizations active in areas where LGBTI persons are most at risk of discrimination.
We will continue to support the essential work of LBGT+ advocates and will not stop until all LGBT+ persons can live freely and safely. As EU Ambassador Stavros Lambrindis said, “LGBTI people and LGBTI activists…deserve the same rights that every other citizen…We all have the same human dignity.”
- Listen to our EU Now Podcast with Drew Keller, Global Program Director for Open for Business, addressing the obstacles LGBT+ people face in the workplace and how these obstacles hurt businesses.
- Read the Declaration by EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17, 2019.
- Read the EU’s list of actions to advance LGBT+ equality.
- Visit the EU’s website on LGBT+ equality.