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8 Feb 2010

More inclusive workplaces for LGBT employees in Hong Kong

Community Business, a non-profit organisation, is planning to produce a LGBT Resource Guide to help companies create inclusive workplaces for LGBT employees in Hong Kong. If you have any observations about issues relating to LGBT employees in Hong Kong, you can share your views in the online survey.

An exciting and significant development is about to take place in Hong Kong’s business arena. Hong Kong-based Community Business, an NGO that works, in their words, ‘to lead, inspire and support businesses to improve their positive impact on people and communities’ (check them out at their website at: http://www.communitybusiness.org ), is launching a project to improve Hong Kong’s workplace policies for LGBT employees. This year they will produce a guide for employers that focuses on creating inclusive workplace environments for LGBT employees in Hong Kong. The guide is the first step in a process which could lead to a published index of the companies showing best practice in this regard. The aim, of course, is to show every business what they need to emulate and thereby raise standards across the city.

With sponsorship from Goldman Sachs and IBM, Community Business is producing an LGBT Resource Guide to help companies create inclusive workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees in Hong Kong. You can share your views by completing this anonymous online survey
To create the best practice guide, they need input from both big business and LGBT employees, so they have gone out to the tongzhi community for help in completing the online survey you’ll find at the foot of this article.

The background to all this lies partly in the extensive research carried out last year by the Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting (TCJM), a grouping of some of Hong Kong’s LGBT organisations, into the extent of commitment to diversity in Hong Kong businesses. Aside from the financial industry, which leads the way here, the results were dire. Up to now, almost all international companies doing business in Hong Kong have paid only lip service to diversity policies, at best repeating the commitment to diversity published on their international websites but not implementing the policies, at worst declaring no policies at all. Local Hong Kong companies uniformly ignore the issue.

While this was research was going on, Community Business had simultaneously decided to extend the focus of its work to the area of sexual-orientation and gender identity. They were already pioneers in the discussion of diversity and in getting issues onto the corporate agenda, so viewed this initiative as furthering this work. They took advice from human rights and LGBT organisations elsewhere, including Out & Equal and Human Rights Campaign Foundation in the US, and decided to adopt the tactic successfully used in both the US and Europe of stimulating competition amongst businesses to bring in better diversity policies. Naming and praising in the media has been found in several other countries to be a great way of persuading businesses of the need to do better. They have secured funding for the project from two really big names, IBM and Goldman Sachs, both of which lead the way in Hong Kong in the diversity policies they have adopted to cover their own employees.

Why does this matter? Two main reasons: the first, that almost all of those currently employed in Hong Kong suffer from the lack of good diversity policies. Lacking are, amongst other things, same-sex spousal rights and discrimination-free working conditions. There is much to improve in this area which will affect everyone; the second, that where business leads the way in Hong Kong, Government will follow. The next target of the LGBT community here is a bill to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. If business believes that diversity is a good thing, it will help sway Government thinking here.

Those who wish to contribute something concrete that will actually improve Hong Kong, might take five minutes to complete the anonymous survey shown below:

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT – ANONYMOUS ONLINE SURVEY
邀請利益相關者參與-網上不記名調查
TARGET AUDIENCE: LGBT Employees and Their Workplace Allies in Hong Kong
目標對象:香港同志及同志友善僱員

Express your views on what companies in Hong Kong can do to create inclusive workplaces for LGBT employees by completing Community Business’ anonymous survey online. The survey may be completed in English or Chinese. Deadline Friday 26 February 2010.

 

Hong Kong

Reader's Comments

1. 2010-02-10 02:15  
I think that we should follow those tried and proven policies in the US. Many large American companies already adopt such policies. We should try to talk the branch offices of these companies to take the lead in HK, mainland China, Taiwan and Singapore into adopting such policies as well. This will demonstrate to other companies, large and small, local and foreign, in these jurisdictions that such policies are beneficial not only to their bottoms but also bottom line. LOL.
2. 2010-02-10 13:33  
a nice comfy place to work is great..just feel like at home..
3. 2010-02-10 15:23  
this is a good idea, but I see it taken a step further, though I'm not sure if such can be done in China.

could there be a national policy that businesses that wish to start up within the nation must have LGBT friendly policies?

wouldn't that be more of an ideal move?
4. 2010-02-10 16:21  
#3: I think if the society is progressive enough to accept gay rights at the national level, we would have national laws above the individual companies' internal policies. This had already been achieved in a few countries. But these laws are limited in scope, and basically protect against discrimination on hiring decisions, university matriculation, etc. As such there is room for individual companies to implement policies to address other areas beyond what the national laws provide for. For example, beside banning discrimination on job applicants based on their sexual orientation, companies could go a step further by:
1) conducting seminars by professional psychologists and psychiatrists for employees to address the misconception of homosexuality, the importance of tolerance, etc.
2) inviting the gay partner, in lieu of spouse, of employees to company dinners
3) offer an official complaint channel headed by a top executive (e.g. HR Director) for gays who wish to complain about discrimination against him based on his sexual orientation. The procedure of investigation should also be formalised and the proceedings should be documented and reported to the CEO.
4) Gay partners (e.g. by civil union or marriage) of employees who are legally registered overseas and also resident in the host country of the company should also be given company benefits like group insurance. Many companies provide group insurance for employees to cover risks like Death, Total and Permanent Disability, Hospitalisation, Medical Expenses and Personal Accident. Some companies extend such coverage to the spouse of employees. This is important because should the spouse of an employee be hospitalised, the employee may be even more emotionally affected should there be direct financial consequences to him. If his wife's hospital bill, temporary unemployment or total loss of ability to earn an income be taken care of by an insurer, then he would have less worry and can continue to perform well in his job. Now, it's a gay employee who has a gay civil partner with whom he jointly takes up a mortgage for an apartment, then the gay employee would become financially affected should his partner become disabled or die. He may not be able to pay for the loan single-handedly. Can he still focus on his work if he has to constantly worry about losing his shelter? I think he would be just as worried as a straight employee who had lost his wife who's co-paying for a mortgage. So I do think that it is only fair for companies to extend the same insurance coverage to the gay partners of employees as they do to the spouses of their straight employees. It doesn't matter that the host country doesn't recognise gay partnership. This extension of benefits is not an endorsement of gay partnership or sex, but an important step to ensure that their gay employees don't feel discriminated, and can feel more financial security while doing their best to serve their companies.

5. 2013-10-31 13:04  
every country should maximize people to reduce loads
And LGBT should not be loads from Nation but to contribute to nation.
Many bussiness sectors that LGBT did not do yet.

LGBT should touch all sectors, yes..it need learning something new
start to wake up, no shy, not afraid of dirty, coarse.
yes, not easy at first..may be need time to learn but LGBT have to do.
Because LGBT should support nations.
The hungry mouths to feed in the world on LGBT shoulders.
they are big responsibilities.
LGBT are balance in the world.

Yes, not all LGBT in the same situation.
Some LGBT in disability or facing up an down life.
That why LGBT need insurance.
How to pay insurance? LGBT who are good in health/situation should get better workplace, business places.

at the end, LGBT should not only support another LGBT but able to support straight people. that why God create LGBT.
That is faith that we follow God
we do not follow hollybooks , nor prophets that seeking power.

LGBT should not always waiting for straight people that love to fighting and spread hate.

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