What is believed to have been China’s first LGBT job fair took place on Saturday.
The event was organized by WorkForLGBT and Shanghai LGBT Professionals as part of its second, annual LGBT Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Conference.
Both the conference and job fair – held in conjunction with Kanzhun.com – took place at the Langham Xintiandi Shanghai.
Organizers say that around 200 HR leaders and LGBT employees attended the conference, and around 400 LGBT Chinese job-seekers attended the job fair, which featured 17 Fortune 500 companies.
Exhibitors included Google, Starbucks, Ford, IBM, Microsoft, Opera Software, McKinsey, Electronic Arts (EA) and L’Oreal, among others. The job fair was free to attend for both attendees and company exhibitors.
Established in 2013, WorkForLGBT and Shanghai LGBT Professionals is a non-profit platform for gay and lesbian employees in China. According to a press statement, it aims to provide ‘a platform for dialogue and partnership with companies in China on LGBT corporate equality issues.’
WorkForLGBT and Shanghai LGBT Professionals founder, Steven Paul Bielinski, said that LGBT job seekers were keen to meet with representatives of companies that had comprehensive diversity and inclusion policies
‘Talented LGBT employees from all across China traveled to Shanghai to be part of this groundbreaking job fair.
‘Inclusive employers with programs, policies, and a corporate culture where LGBT employees can bring their authentic selves to work are their first choice.’
Same-sex sexual activity is legal in China, but there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships and there are no laws preventing sexual orientation discrimination.
In 2013, the American Pew Research Center released research on international attitudes to LGBT issues. When asked ‘Should society accept homosexuality?’, only 21% of 3,000 Chinese respondents said yes, while 57% said no.
However, Bielinski says that attitudes are slowly changing in the country, and points to a more recent Consumer Business Group survey by Baidu (the Chinese equivalent of Google) that found 86% of 18-25 year olds in China expressed ‘total acceptance of homosexuality’.
He told Gay Star Business that the job fair will return to Shanghai next year.
‘Companies in China are realizing the LGBT community means business.
‘While it took a great deal of time and energy to organize this groundbreaking job fair, it was encouraging that many companies – including Microsoft and Opera Software – actively reached out to request participation and show their support of LGBT diversity & inclusion.’