‘Groundbreaking’ is a term that is sometimes thrown around a bit too easily in the world of LGBTI activism. However it is safe to say that the Colorful Workplaces Conference last week in Nairobi, Kenya did indeed fit the description. This event took place in a country where Article 162 of the Kenyan Penal code states that sodomy is a felony and in which conservative attitudes rule the day.
Nonetheless, through the testimony of legal experts and countless examples from civil society and private sector participants, it became clear that just BEING LGBT is NOT a crime. There is ample room in Kenya for LGBT people to be themselves at work and, for courageous and forward-looking organisations, ample room to support them.
By bringing together civil society, the LGBT community, and, most importantly (and for the first time in Kenya) the business world, the conference highlighted that change is on the horizon for the country. It is difficult to underestimate the importance of the participation of businesses in the event given their important role as agents of change in Kenyan society. Workplace Pride and the other organisers applaud the courage of Safaricom and their head of HR, Paul Kasimu, for supporting the concept of people being able to be themselves at work, also in Kenya.
The Colorful Workplaces Conference was jointly organised by Workplace Pride, Dutch Human Rights organization HIVOS, and Kenyan NGO, Sullivan Reed. Workplace Pride members IBM and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs sponsored the event while, members SAP, and Vodafone (through their Kenyan subsidiary and local market leader Safaricom), played important roles.
Another milestone for the conference was the African launching of the United Nations Standards of Conduct for LGBTI business. These standards call for businesses around the world to respect a number of criteria to support the LGBTI community: among their own employees, with their customers and in the public sphere.
For more information about the Colorful Workplace Conference and Program contact:
Workplace Pride: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sullivan Reed: email@example.com
IMAGES of EVENT:
Click here: Opening Reception
Click here: Conference