Critical issues and corporate relations

Open For Business

Fourteen global companies launch the first business-led coalition to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGB&T) inclusion around the world

29 September 2015

Open For Business

Fourteen global companies launch the first business-led coalition to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGB&T) inclusion around the world

  • The full report and details of the coalition can be found at:
    www.open-for-business.org
  • The coalition, ‘Open For Business’, includes American Express, AT&T, Brunswick, EY, Google, IBM, LinkedIn, Linklaters, MasterCard, McKinsey & Company, Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Chartered, Thomson Reuters and Virgin Group.
  • The coalition published a new report which shows that economies perform better and successful businesses thrive in open, diverse and inclusive societies.
  • The report also assesses the risks faced by global companies operating in countries with anti-LGB&T legislation. For example, risks to employee safety and security, and risks to brand and reputation.

New York & London, September 29, 2015 – Fourteen of the world’s global companies will announce today the launch of the first business-led coalition supporting LGB&T inclusion.

The launch of the coalition, ‘Open For Business’, will be announced on stage during The Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York.

The purpose of Open For Business is to make and promote a positive business and economic case for global LGB&T rights. As businesses with customers, employees, suppliers and operations around the world, the coalition believes successful, enterprising businesses thrive in diverse, inclusive societies, and the spread of anti-LGB&T policies runs counter to the interests of business and economic development.

Open For Business also published a comprehensive report today, written by Brunswick Partners and authors Jon Miller and Lucy Parker, which shows that successful businesses thrive in open, diverse and inclusive societies. The report, ‘Open For Business: the Economic and Business Case for LGB&T Inclusion,’ presents the most substantial evidence-base to date on this subject, demonstrating that:

  1. Economies perform better without discrimination against LGB&T persons.
  2. Companies perform better in societies that support LGB&T inclusion.
  3. Individuals perform better in environments that support LGB&T inclusion.

The formation of the coalition and the report’s findings will provide evidence and support for those with influence in governments who oppose anti-LGB&T policies around the world. Over the next 12 months some members of the Open For Business coalition will hold global events to raise awareness of the business and economic case for LGB&T inclusion.

Cynthia Marshall, SVP Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer at AT&T said:

“Diversity and inclusion have long been a part of AT&T’s culture and operations, and our experience supports the coalition’s finding that successful businesses thrive in diverse and inclusive societies. We support laws that prohibit discrimination everywhere we do business, and we’re proud to be a part of this coalition.”

Liz Bingham, Managing Partner Talent UK & Ireland at EY said:

“Operating across different geographies around the world, some of which may have anti-LGB&T legislation, there are risks. For our employees, we need to understand the situation locally, and we have to have frameworks and protocols in place for a global business. Our employees, and other stakeholders we engage with, expect us to send a coherent and consistent message. It matters to us to have an authentic voice on these topics and to collaborate with other organizations and NGOs which share our passion on this agenda.”

Claudia Brind-Woody, Vice President & Managing Director for Global Intellectual Property Licensing at IBM said:

“If countries and cities want to have economic development, they have to rise to a level of tolerance that enables them to have the kind of diverse dialogue that creates innovation. We can have a dialogue about corporate and business development in a country, including with corporations that have strong nondiscriminatory policies. That’s why our corporate brands coming together as Open For Business is so important: we have a collective courage as corporates to have open dialogues that can become stepping stones – and will help us open the aperture on tolerance.”

Joshua Graff, Senior Director at LinkedIn Europe, Middle East and Africa said:

“We believe that a diverse workforce has a multitude of benefits for a business and for the individuals. So anything that we can do to encourage diversity for our own team, our clients and our members around the globe is entirely in line with what we’re looking to accomplish. If you consider diversity specifically in terms of LGB&T rights, that’s why we’re part of Open For Business.”

Tim Murphy, General Counsel and Chief Franchise Officer at MasterCard said:

“In today’s world, diversity cannot be a ‘nice-to-have.’ It is a foundational element to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our employees, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, age or religion. Embracing and respecting different experiences and perspectives is what helps us ensure we’re developing products and making decisions that are most valuable to our customers and cardholders.”

Patsy Doerr, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion at Thomson Reuters said:

“We are proud to take part in this important initiative. For us at Thomson Reuters, diversity and inclusion means fostering a culture where diversity of thought, style, experience and approach is fostered so innovation can thrive. It’s something we think about constantly, integrating it throughout our organization, all over the world.”

Randy Berry, Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, U.S. Department of State, who contributed a foreword to the report, said:

“Discriminatory laws are detrimental to business and economic development. They threaten the stability businesses desire, risk the safety of employees and jeopardize business interests all over the world. Companies need to come together to promote policies and work environments that enable them to attract the best talent regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is the responsibility of all of us – government, civil society and business - to take a stand against discrimination and injustice.”

Key Findings of Report

  • The business and economic case for LGB&T inclusion exists on three levels – economic performance, business performance and individual performance.
  • Economic performance:
    • LGB&T inclusion signals a diverse and creative environment, and is associated with higher levels of innovation and entrepreneurship.
    • LGB&T discrimination often goes hand-in-hand with a culture of corrupt practices, a lack of openness and a weak civil society with poorly developed institutions.
  • Business performance:
    • Companies that support inclusion and diversity are better able to compete for talented employees, and show higher rates of retention.
    • LGB&T inclusion is associated with higher levels of innovation and more effective collaboration and teamwork. 
  • Individual performance:
    • Individuals working in open, diverse, inclusive environments have higher levels of engagement and satisfaction, leading to greater productivity.
    • They are more likely to speak up with suggestions to improve performance, and to “go the extra mile” and contribute to the culture of the company.
  • Risks faced by global companies operating in countries with anti-LGB&T legislation are analyzed in the report.
    • These include risks to employee safety and security, risks of non-compliance, and risks to brand and reputation.
    • In a new survey of UK and US consumer attitudes:
      • Nearly HALF (47.5 percent) would support a boycott of companies working in countries that have anti-gay laws
      • More than HALF (52.5 percent) said they would be UNLIKELY to support international development aid going to a country that has anti-gay laws
      • More than HALF (52 percent) would be UNLIKELY to work for a company that does business in a country that has anti-gay laws
      • 42.5% would be UNLIKELY to buy coffee from a country that has anti-gay laws
      • More than HALF (51 percent) would be UNLIKELY to go on vacation to a country that has anti-gay laws

The full report and details of the coalition can be found at:
www.open-for-business.org

Notes to editors:

Report Methodology

This report presents a comprehensive evidence base for global LGB&T inclusion: successful businesses thrive in diverse, inclusive societies and the spread of anti-gay policies runs counter to the interests of business and economic development. The following methodology was used:

  1. Collected evidence (reports, research papers, online news articles) via secondary desk research.
  2. Distilled this evidence base into a set of propositions about the individual, business and economic impacts of LGB&T inclusion.
  3. Re-visited the evidence base to identify the most robust and up to date evidence and data for each proposition.
  4. Collected input from civil society organizations, including the International HIV/AIDs Alliance, the Human Rights Campaign, Out Leadership and Stonewall.
  5. Interviewed activists on the front-line of LGB&T discrimination to ensure propositions are grounded in local country realities, including Jamaica, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria, Russia and Poland.
  6. Commissioned primary research on consumer attitudes towards LGB&T discrimination (survey data).

*Research was carried out from January to August 2015

About Open For Business

Despite progress in some countries, the global situation for LGB&T persons is urgent: In at least 77 countries around the world today, same sex relationships are illegal, at times involving lifetime imprisonment. In seven countries, same sex acts are even punishable by death. Even in more progressive countries, violence and discrimination against LGB&T people still exists in the form of discriminatory laws, unfair treatment by employers and negative social attitudes.

A broad base of civil society organizations support Open For Business: Open For Business is a coalition of global businesses. It has been developed in dialogue with a number of civil society organizations, who will continue to provide advice and guidance. These organizations include: the UK Department of International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global HIV/AIDs Alliance, the Kaleidoscope Trust, the Human Rights Campaign, Stonewall, Out Leadership and OUTstanding.

By joining Open For Business, members commit to: respecting the diversity of their customers, employees, suppliers and partners wherever they are in the world; showing progress in implementing strong and robust policies to provide a working environment that respects and protects all individuals and tackling all forms of discrimination against LGB&T employees.

About Open For Business: This is an informal coalition of businesses working together on this issue; it has no legal incorporation of any kind. At this stage it is a small coalition and decision-making is by discussion and consensus. Open For Business has been developed collaboratively by the member companies, and the coalition has an ‘administrative home’ at Brunswick Group.

About the Clinton Global Initiative

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together 190 sitting and former heads of state, more than 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 3,200 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries.

In addition to the Annual Meeting, CGI convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States; and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. This year, CGI also convened CGI Middle East & Africa, which brought together leaders across sectors to take action on pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges.

For more information, visitclintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.

For more information, media should contact:
UK
Imran Jina (UK): +44 7587 037076
Wendel Verbeek (UK): +44 7974 982 423

US
Alex Finnegan (US): +1 202 264 9544
Jon Miller (US): +44 7775 824703
[email protected]

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