NEW YORK (AP) — A dozen corporations, including Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Coca-Cola Co., are joining a new coalition to push for LGBT rights in the workplace in places beyond the U.S. and Western Europe.
The organization is partly a response to the recent setbacks for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights in countries like Russia, Uganda and the Middle East. The Human Rights Campaign-led group will push for protections in the workplace globally, including in countries where LGBT individuals face legal discrimination or harassment.
“They deserve a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families no matter where they live,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
Corporate America has been cited as a force in the push for gay rights in the U.S., with some companies offering LGBT protections and same-sex partner benefits going back decades. Hundreds of companies signed statements advocating for same-sex marriage when the issue to the Supreme Court earlier this year.
The coalition members are: the consulting firm Accenture, AT&T Inc., software company CA Technologies, Coca-Cola, Destination Weddings Travel Group, Google, IBM, Microsoft, home furnishings maker Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co., china and glassware company Replacements Ltd., and Symantec Corp. HRC officials expect the group’s members to grow.
“We have long supported LGBT rights, but it is very difficult to implement protections for our employees and for their families when laws do not exist or it’s a hostile environment,” said Mary Snapp, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft.
The group collectively employs nearly 1.4 million people in 190 countries and has combined annual revenue of nearly $550 billion.
The coalition will provide the members a common platform to talk about LGBT workplace protections globally. It also will be a platform for companies to get advice on how to implement LGBT friendly policies in places where legal protections may not be there, said Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program.
HRC since 2002 has issued a report yearly that scored how well large companies dealt with LGBT-specific issues. However the report, known as the Corporate Equality Index, focused mostly on the U.S., not elsewhere.
The new coalition will join an already existing group of advocacy organizations and companies that have been pushing more workplace protections for individuals beyond the U.S. For example, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, two companies who are not in HRC’s inaugural group, have been individually vocal about workplace protections in the countries they do business.
“The conversation around the positive business impacts of LGBT equality is increasingly a global one,” said Todd Sears with Out Leadership, a business focused LGBT rights organization, which has held global business focused summits on LGBT workplace issues since 2011.
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It’s a whole new world.
A compelling short film by Dustin Lance Black takes a look at young, queer romance and the choices teens have today in responding to those who may be different from them.
One of three short films written by Black for the Latin American ad campaign for Coca-Cola, “The Text” is a beautiful short that encourages teens to choose empathy over bullying — specifically aimed at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
“The Text” depicts a young teen learning a close friend of his is in a romantic relationship with another teenage boy.
“Are you going to go the way of kindness, or are you going to go for the easy joke when someone’s having a tough time?” Black told Ad Week. “If you do something with acceptance and kindness, you can create a true friendship.”
Coca-Cola has a history of showing support for the LGBT community through its advertising. Most recently, they placed ads around Amsterdam depicting queer families that read, “We choose happiness over tradition.”
We can only hope that businesses encouraging healthy, empathetic relationships among young, queer teens is the way of the future!
Oscar award winning screen writer – oh, and Tom Daley’s boyfriend, too – Dustin Lance Black has directed a new short film with Coca Cola. The Milk director’s new film The Text follows a friendship between a gay young teen and his straight best friend in a hopeful bid to reduce homophobic bullying.
The eight minute film, based in Latin America, promotes goodwill in the LGBT community and promotes compassion over judgement.
In an interview with AdWeek, Dustin explained this is “heartwarming for the LGBT community to see that a global brand would embrace this community because, let’s be honest, there are places in the world that know about Coca-Cola where it is still a death sentence to be gay.”
He continued: “My intent was to send the message that diversity is a good thing and LGBT people are their families deserve respect and love.”
Check out the heartwarming video here…
Words Dean Eastmond, @deanvictorr