Talking about LGBT inclusion at work is a challenge in almost any location; even where the most liberal legal frameworks and cultural norms are in place. Add to that the hurdle of pressure to respect family traditions and continuity, plus an extreme performance requirement and the task seems to become almost insurmountable. This is the setting that many participants of the LGBT Workplace Inclusion Confernece in Greater China contend with on a regular basis, and which encouraged them to seek solutions at this event.
Organised in Hong Kong by Workplace Pride in close cooperation with Accenture (a Workplace Pride member and host of the event) the booked-to-capacity conference examined all angles that employers and the LGBT community in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan must consider when talking about LGBT inclusion at work. Many participants, which represented primarily corporate stakeholders, often see LGBT expat staff that are’ out of the closet in the region, but are frustrated to see very few Chinese staff that are comfortable enough to be out at work. What’s more, there is a marked difference within the region on the topic of LGBT inclusion in society: in China and (to a lesser extent) in Hong Kong the topic is taboo, while in Taiwan grass roots movement have made considerable progress on societal change (it may be the 1st Asian nation to legalise same-sex marriage) yet the topic is still hardly covered at work. Regional differences include:
Hong-Kong based NGO, Community Business brought specific knowledge of the region to the event while speakers such as Jimmy Chen, Head of IBM’s LGBT Network in China, outlined how supportive organisations (such as IBM) are crucial to creating workplaces in China where people (both expats and locals) can truly be themselves. Local activist Benita Chick was also instrumental in helping conference participants to understand the complexities of Chinese society and how the collective effort of businesses and civil society will be a game-changer for LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong.
Special thanks goes to the Dutch Consul General for Hong Kong Annemieke Ruigrok who hosted the opening reception at her residence in Hong Kong. She also mobilised the local diplomatic community to support the event and spread the word about LGBT workplace inclusion to companies from their own countries who are active in the region.
The level of enthusiasm was palpable at the end of the conference and participants left with a number of concrete examples and tools that they can use in their own workplaces. All of this will be great preparation for the year 2020 when Hong Kong will host the first-ever Gay Games to be held in Asia where the topic of LGBT inclusion at work will surely be on the agenda.
For information about the event contact:
Workplace Pride: firstname.lastname@example.org