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Hong Kong launches Asia’s first gay workplace inclusion index

Hong Kong launches Asia’s first gay workplace inclusion index

Asia’s first LGBTI workplace inclusion index was launched today at a diversity conference in Hong Kong.

Community Business, a not-profit focusing on corporate responsibility, invited companies operating in the city to make submissions for the index until the end of February next year.

‘With the call for changes in legislation and a more visible LGBT community, not just in Hong Kong but across Asia, attitudes are changing,’ Fern Ngai, CEO of Community Business, said in a statement.

‘Companies can no longer ignore the issue of LGBT inclusion in their workplaces, and they have a critical role to play in achieving greater acceptance and equality for LGBT individuals.’

Companies will be asessed on their equal opportunity policies, diversity training and benefits among other criteria, and the top 10 firms will be announced in May next year. The index will be updated every two years then on.

Community Business also called for nominations for three awards recognizing the year’s best LGBTI network, inclusion champion and executive sponsor.

‘The index will help to reinforce the importance of LGBT inclusion in the workplace and create a compelling business reason for companies to focus on it. The companies who are doing a great job in LGBT diversity will become more visible, and improve their ability to attract and retain talent,’ said Paul Choi, head of Goldman Sachs University and co-head of the Goldman Sachs LGBT network in Asia.

‘The index is like a roadmap; companies know the destination but they don’t know how to get there. The index helps pinpoint where we are on the journey, and give us directions to a more inclusive workplace,’ said Stephen Golden, Goldman Sachs head of diversity across Asia Pacific.

Hong Kong has no laws against LGBTI discrimination in the workplace but a code of practice was issued by the government in 1998 to facilitate self-regulation.

As of last month, 90 organizations, including Cathay Pacific, Hutchison Whampoa, Standard Chartered, Swire and HSBC, had pledged to adopt the code.

‘Our research has highlighted the compelling business case for LGBT inclusion and in general a workplace environment that embraces diversity,’ said Ngai.

A 2012 Community Business survey showed that 85 per cent of respondents felt there was a need for greater LGBTI workplace inclusiveness in Hong Kong. The research also found that 71 per cent of LGBTI employees were not out at work while only 28 per cent were fully open with their parents.

Community Business launched an LGBTI workplace inclusion guide for China in September last year.