Persistence and unity are essential in meeting the global challenges facing the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Intersex (LGBTI) community as it seeks genuine and lasting progress on issues of inclusion and diversity.
That’s the consensus reached at the recent “OUT in the Global Economy” seminar organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and Royal Dutch Shell during the recent LGBTI Business Week Conference in Washington D.C. The seminar focused on how international businesses operate in different — and often conservative — cultures and political environments, yet are still able to make significant progress toward LGBTI workplace inclusion.
“OUT in the Global Economy” included two high-level panel discussions, including the first-ever panel of experts on economics, public policy and global human rights discussing a wide range of viable options to ensure a more equitable world for LGBTI citizens. Both panels involved public and private sector participants, including ING, American Airlines, AkzoNobel and IBM.
Workplace Pride Executive Director David Pollard moderated a panel entitled, “The Inclusive 21st Century Economy: How Corporations, Governments and NGOs Create Opportunities.” Workplace Pride is recognized as the international platform for LGBTI inclusion, and Pollard noted the organization has 50 corporate members — including Shell — representing almost 3 million employees worldwide.
The panelists included Shell General Manager IT Trading and Supply Genny Winter; Ana Carolina Oliveira, director of Credit Risk Management, ING USA; Patrick Quayle, managing director of International Planning for American Airlines; and Chance Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of NGLCC.
Winter represented Shell on the first-ever panel of experts on economics, public policy and global human rights discussing various ways to ensure a more equitable world for LGBTI citizens.
“I understand and appreciate the hard work behind creating an inaugural event, so I applaud the leadership of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, especially the global teams,” Winter said while addressing the event’s attendees. “There is a lot of history between us, right? The role you play, as global leaders in LGBTI inclusion is to be commended. At Shell, we are proud to do our part to deliver a growing impact around the globe to the inclusion of all, but especially the LGBTI community.”
Vincent Storimans, First Secretary of Economic Affairs of the Embassy of the Netherlands noted a positive response from the audience on ideas and best practices shared by the panelists regarding LGBTI inclusion on the work floor. “There was agreement between the panelists on the fact that companies play a major role in LGBTI inclusion and that ‘leadership is key.’ It became clear that companies on the panel had different approaches to achieve this,” Storimans said. “ING has a Diversity Manifesto, American Airlines actively campaigned against the Religious Freedom Acts in North Carolina and Shell has an active strategy of inclusion of LGBTI members of its workforce.”
Other topics discussed during the seminar involved obstacles that impede the message to corporate employees about the need to support LGBTI inclusion. Winter said this is why Shell takes a pro-active approach, such as recognizing International Coming Out Day, to challenge predominantly conservative corporate traditions worldwide.
“Whether we are leading through our National Coming Out Day program here in the US, or as far away as India and South Africa, from Canada to Brazil, we understand it takes a strong culture of inclusion to help lead the way in an often too conservative energy industry,” Winter said. “One benefit of being connected to the inaugural Global LGBTI Business Week event is being part of a robust dialog of change, impact and inclusion for everyone who will and can have a hand in making the future for energy, and all that it will bring to the global community.”
NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson said LGBTI Business Week is proving mutually beneficial to all who attend and participate.
“The creation of NGLCC Global LGBTI Business Week speaks to the heart of the mission of NGLCC Global: to build an inclusive global economy in which LGBTI entrepreneurs and their allied business partners are free to trade, develop and succeed,” Nelson said. “This annual week of celebration and education will continue to keep our focus global as we build sustainable equity and economic strength for the LGBTI community. Together with our global partners we will ensure our community thrives on every continent.”