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Stonewall takes on global gay workplace rights

UK gay campaigner group Stonewall’s guide says companies can prosper by caring for their staff working abroad
Ernst & Young have offices around the world, including Warsaw, where gay people enjoy fewer rights.

Britain’s leading gay campaign organization, Stonewall, is urging employers to protect LGB staff while working abroad.

A new guide, out today (8 June) is aimed at employers who have staff working on overseas assignments around the globe, including in countries which lack basic protection for gay and bisexual people or who actively criminalize homosexuality.

Called Global Working, it highlights the problems that gay and bisexual staff face in countries where there is no legal protection from homophobic discrimination at work, no recognition of their partners or parenting rights and, in some countries, bans on ‘promoting’ homosexuality which means they have to hide their personal lives.

Instead it calls on employers to protect their lesbian, gay and bi staff abroad and to champion gay equality worldwide, applying the same policies everywhere for multinationals.

It also calls on bosses to make sure gay issues are factored in to their relocation policies, that partners are recognized and that LGBT staff groups get support wherever they are.

And, in its section on the ‘business case’, Stonewall says that companies and organizations who deliver for their gay staff worldwide will reap the benefits.

It says a gay-friendly approach will help them get and keep the best staff, avoid costly recruitment costs, improve their reputation, enhance business performance and slash the risk of being sued by disgruntled ex-employees.

To prove the point, Stonewall gives examples from top employers like Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Accenture, IBM, Ernst & Young and Google.

Stonewall director of workplace, Colleen Humphrey, said: ‘Years of hard lobbying by Stonewall has secured vital legal protections for gay staff in Britain. But in over 80 countries it’s still illegal to be gay, and other countries don’t legally recognize civil partners or same-sex parents.

‘Our guide will help global employers support their gay staff on assignment in those countries – and help make a difference to 400 million gay people living worldwide.’

Global Working is based on the experience of global members of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions program, which engages over 600 employers who have 10 million staff worldwide. The guide is sponsored by Google. You can download Global Working here.

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