Why CEOs are bothered about global LGBT+ rights | Brunswick Group
Brunswick Review Issue 13

Why CEOs are bothered about global LGBT+ rights

Open For Business is a coalition of global companies making the economic and business case for LGBT+ inclusion

In a global backlash against LGBT+ rights, millions are routinely subject to discrimination, harassment or arrest because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For global businesses, this is a real cause for concern.

These company leaders know that open, inclusive societies are better for economic growth, and that the spread of anti-LGBT laws is bad for business. That’s why 22 global companies have joined forces in the Open For Business coalition to promote the economic case for inclusion. To talk about why this issue matters, we turned to leading CEOs themselves.

Rich Lesser - President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group
“We need to work as leaders in the business communities to share that perspective on LGBT+ inclusion. There’s a strong case on what’s right to do, but there’s also a strong case on the economics. There’s so much research that says when people can be themselves, they contribute at a higher level, you get more creativity, you get better teamwork, you get more impact.”

Susan Gilchrist - Group Chief Executive, Brunswick
“In many parts of the world, we’re literally going in the wrong direction. And that’s difficult, not just from a personal point of view or moral point of view, but actually from a business point of view. What’s fascinating is that society expects business to have a point of view on these things, and business is one place that can actually take a stand.”

Jim Smith - President and CEO, Thomson Reuters
“I don’t think there’s any question that diverse organizations perform better. I know for a fact that a diversity of perspectives and opinions enlivens dialogue and always comes up with a better answer. Collectively, we’re able to move the ball further than we could do individually.”

Bill Winters - Group Chief Executive, Standard Chartered Bank
“We all operate in parts of the world where the LGBT+ community is not as welcome or, in some cases, not welcome at all. I think leadership is always about taking some bolder and occasionally controversial decisions. Open For Business, for us, is a great way to make a very clear statement.”

Gideon Moore - Firmwide Managing Partner, Linklaters
“If you look at the Fortune 100, those at the top also have good scores for how they look at diversity from a business perspective. If you’re able to promote diversity and inclusion by reference to the fact that it’s better for business, better for society, better for the economy, that’s also able to push the argument to a different level.” 

Richard Branson - Founder, Virgin Group
“It’s sad that this subject should even have to be discussed in this day and age. It should go without saying that everyone should be treated equally and properly. The debate should have been won on a global basis. Business leaders can take the lead to put pressure on governments to change some of these ghastly laws that still exist. The power of a collective business voice is extraordinarily strong.”

Vivian Hunt - Managing Partner, UK and Ireland, McKinsey & Co.
“The evidence shows that diverse teams perform better. But the absence of diversity also is correlated with negative performance. Being ‘Open For Business’ has to be grounded in your core business objectives. I don’t think about it as branding, PR or CSR. I think about it more as part of your license to operate.”

Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY
“One of the really important things Open For Business is doing is bringing together organizations to build a comprehensive business case for LGBT+ inclusion, backed by solid evidence. It just doesn’t make business sense to discount any person based on their religion, their race, sexual preference or gender. If other big businesses do the same thing, together we really can make a difference  in communities around the world.”

Drew Keller is Program Director for Open For Business. Jon Miller, a Brunswick Partner, co-founded Open For Business.

Open For Business is a coalition of global companies making the economic and business case for LGBT+ inclusion. The coalition includes leading global companies Accenture, American Express, AT&T, Barclays, Boston Consulting Group, Brunswick, Burberry,  EY, Google, IBM, LinkedIn, Linklaters, MasterCard, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Chartered,  Thomson Reuters and Virgin Group. You can watch CEOs speaking about Open For Business at www.open-for-business.org.


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