LGBT-inclusive workplaces guru Todd Sears spoke at an event in Hong Kong yesterday to inspire corporations to improve office environments for gay, bi and trans employees.
The Goldman Sachs event entitled Raise Your LGBT Ally Game focused on getting straight supporters of LGBT rights to become active in creating a more inclusive workplace.
The talk was video conferenced to eight cities across the region – Beijing, Bangalore, Melbourne, Mumbai, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo – where around 200 people logged-on to hear what Sears had to say.
After a career in investment banking, Sears founded Out on the Street, an organization which shows corporations that creating a more comfortable arena for LGBT employees is good for business.
Sears emphasized that being a straight ally to LGBT rights goes beyond just stating that you are one.
‘However, allies must be "active" to be successful – meaning they must go beyond simply stating they are an ally to demonstrating supportive behaviors,’ said Sears.
The business guru added that the definition of ally does not just apply to straight people.
‘Members of the LGBT community can be allies to each other, for example a lesbian can be an ally to a trans person,’ he said. ‘Not to mention what can be gained by allying with other diverse groups such as multicultural ones or even disabilities or veterans networks.’
Paul Choi, co-head of the Asia LGBT Network, at Goldman Sachs, who organized the event, said they launched an LGBT ally program in Asia in 2009 and said since then the membership of their LGBT network has increased five fold.
After success in getting more corporations in the US to recognize ‘the power of out’, Sears is focusing on Asia. He told Gay Star News that global companies should be consistent in showing LGBT support across the countries where they work.
‘In the US and Western Europe this could mean supporting marriage equality, in other places like in Asia this could mean support for employment non-discrimination legislation,’ said Sears.
‘Of course, employee safety comes first so in countries where LGBT people face violence and death just for being who they are, companies will tread lightly.
‘However, they can still make clear to a country’s leaders about specific policies that make it difficult to do business in their country (including such issues as anti-gay violence and legislation) – and in this way help to move the needle forward on equality.’