As world leaders congregated in Davos, Switzerland during the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting last month, HRC hosted a global equality round table for business leaders and industry influencers with longtime HRC supporter and LGBT ally Vice President Joe Biden.
"When you speak up, you change the conversation," Biden told the round table participants, which included CEOs from Coca-Cola, Dow, Deloitte and UPS. Hosts of the meeting included HRC President Chad Griffin, President of Microsoft Brad Smith and Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of SkyBridge Capital.
"LGBT people should have a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families no matter where they live, and leaders of the world’s foremost companies can and should provide equal treatment and protections for their LGBT employees," Griffin said. "They are also powerful voices in making the case globally that equality and inclusion in the workplace are both common sense and good business sense."
The round table came on the heels of the launch of HRC’s first global Corporate Equality Index evaluating LGBT workplace protections throughout international operations and the launch of a groundbreaking global business coalition committed to advancing LGBT workplace equality around the world. Across industries and geographies, hundreds of major businesses are creating inclusive workplaces and ensuring that an employee’s sexual orientation and gender identity are not barriers to a successful career.
More and more employers are standing up in unison to support global LGBT equality. In addition to Microsoft, other members of the global coalition that were represented at the round table in Davos included Accenture, AirBNB, Alcoa, The Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical, Google, MasterCard and UPS.
"Our commitment to treating all our employees equally has helped our business grow as well as being the right thing to do," Smith explained. "This isn’t just important to Microsoft. We believe it is also good for economies operating in a global context.”
LGBT human rights and equality have become a growing topic of conversation at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting since HRC co-hosted a historic breakfast in 2014 alongside Credit Suisse, The Huffington Post, Microsoft, the Paul E. Singer Foundation, the Third Point Foundation and TimeWarner.
Aside from the round table with Vice President Biden this year, HRC joined Microsoft, EY and others to host a breakfast discussion on securing LGBT rights in the global marketplace. Additionally, the World Economic Forum hosted a lunch on LGBT diversity and ran a web series on LGBT equality with contributions from HRC and leaders from Alcoa, Microsoft and EY. Moreover, HRC joined Accenture and MasterCard for an important discussion on the rapidly changing landscape of diversity and inclusion globally.
Vice President Biden and others recognized the power that the business community and members of the World Economic Forum have to take a stand against LGBT people being treated as second-class citizens around the world. They rightly recognized that this discussion deserves a spot on the World Economic Forum’s main stage.
To join industry leaders in HRC’s growing global business coalition, email CEI@hrc.org.