A new guide to LGBT inclusion in the workplace was launched yesterday in Beijing with the help of IBM and Goldman Sachs – two recognized global leaders when it comes to supporting their LGBT employees.
The ‘Creating Inclusive Workplaces for LGBT Employees in China’ resource guide was created by Asian workplace diversity non-profit group Community Business and highlights the business case for addressing the needs of LGBT employees and provides the cultural and legal context of LGBT issues in China.
The guide also provides a set of recommendations on how companies can create inclusive workplaces for LGBT employees and includes a number of examples of good practice.
Community Business see diversity and inclusion in the workplace as a new frontier in China but says the search for harmony among differences is not.
‘Leading companies in China are beginning to understand the benefits that an inclusive environment can bring to productivity, employee engagement, attraction and retention of the best talent and ultimately, business performance,’ Community Business said in a statement.
‘However, the subject of sexual orientation and gender identity has largely been overlooked. Faced with immense pressure caused by traditional family values and notions of filial piety, very few LGBT individuals are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, whilst most people consider this topic too sensitive and private to discuss openly. For most companies in China, LGBT is simply not on their agenda.’
But the group says the potential for improvement in China is immense.
‘As companies in China continue to operate and compete in a globalized and interconnected world, the need for companies to distinguish themselves as industry leaders means that there is an increasing need for driving innovation, diversity of thought, and better corporate governance,’ Community Business CEO Fern Ngai said.
‘Creating a workplace that is free from bias, stigma, and where all employees, including LGBT employees, can bring their full selves to work, is good for creativity, innovation, and ultimately a company’s bottom line.’
In preparing the guide, Community Business set up a group of experts on LGBT issues in China and enlisted the support of groups including the Aibai Culture and Education Center, the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, the Beijing LGBT Center, the British Council, Common Language, the Health Governance Initiative, Nvai, PFLAG China and UNAIDS.
Community Business also engaged with corporate stakeholders to gain insights into some of the issues for LGBT employees in China - particularly around workplace challenges and what actions can be taken by employers to create more inclusive workplaces.
‘Through working with a vibrant group of local LGBT organizations and the enthusiasm shown by the corporate participants in our stakeholder engagement sessions in Beijing and Shanghai, we see the enormous potential for China to treat LGBT individuals with respect, openness and equality,’ Community Business senior program manager and co-author of the guide Amanda Yik said.
‘In this process of change, companies have a critical role to play by creating an inclusive workplace for LGBT employees. This resource guide is designed to both educate companies about the Chinese context but also gives some clear recommendations on how they can go about doing that.’
Chief Financial Officer, and LGBT Ambassador in the IBM Greater China Group Lily Low said the benefits of LGBT inclusion in the workplace for businesses had been well proven.
‘Creating a culture where LGBT employees are valued, empowered to think freely and encouraged to express themselves fully, frees our colleagues to think creatively, producing dramatic and innovative outcomes for our clients,’ Low said.
‘By working together to produce this LGBT Resource Guide for Employers, we hope to encourage more companies to review their workplace policies and practices and drive positive change for the LGBT community in China.’
Goldman Sachs’ Director of Greater China Research and Diversity Champion for China Kelvin Koh said it was vital that Chinese businesses make the most of LGBT employees by giving them the best environment to perform in.
‘There is a clear business case to be made for companies to be more inclusive and LGBT-friendly. Studies have shown that LGBT employees are more productive and more committed to their work in an inclusive environment,’ Koh said, ‘We hope this guide will help companies learn from some of the best practices already in place.’
‘It is crucial for China as a growing and emerging economy to fully explore the potential of its LGBT population and for companies to have inclusive policies that enable their employees to bring their whole selves to work. We firmly believe that creating an inclusive environment for people in all aspects of society is critical to the success of China.’
The guide will also be launched in Shanghai on 14 October at an event hosted by sponsors Goldman Sachs and IBM.
The Resource Guide is available bilingually in English and Simplified Chinese.