The index is the first of its kind in Asia. It is designed to evaluate and to promote LGBTI-friendly attitudes, practices, and policies among businesses large and small. Its goal is to provide participating businesses with the means to measure and to increase inclusivity and diversity in the workplace environment.
The Index ranks businesses according to several metrics, including Equal Opportunity Policies, Diversity Training, Diversity Structure, Benefits, Corporate Culture, Market Positioning, Monitoring, and Community and Advocacy. Companies are welcome to register to participate until February 2015, and the results will be announced on 15 May 2015. In addition to creating the Index, the initiative will also award several prizes in recognition of the achievements of the highest-ranking businesses. The Index will be revised every two years, enabling companies to monitor progress.
According to Brian Leung, a popular Hong Kong-based LGBT activist and radio host, the Index is “a great opportunity for LGBTI professionals and allies to get together to drive LGBTI inclusion forward in Asia,” with the Hong Kong version potentially providing a model for other nations in the region. It will do so, in part, by giving activists “something tangible to benchmark and hold companies accountable to,” as LGBTI activist Bess Hepworth has noted elsewhere.
Such a benchmark is needed. Even in Hong Kong, one of the LGBTI-friendliest places in the region, an LGBT Climate Study conducted from 2011 top 2012 found that 71% of homosexuals—a vast majority—are not open about their sexuality in the work place. This suggests that Hong Kong business culture still has miles to go before achieving widespread inclusivity. Progress on this front, through initiatives like the Index, would likely carry benefits that ramify far beyond the business domain: creating LGBTI-friendly attitudes and practices in the workplace is part and parcel of achieving a more inclusive and pro-diversity society and legal culture.