Creating an equal environment for all, including LGBT people, is not only the financial industry’s responsibility, but also benefits business by improving engagement and creativity at work, says a group of bankers and CEOs in Hong Kong.
“I’m passionate about diversity because I want my colleagues to be themselves at work. We are responsible for creating a society where everyone has a chance to fulfill his or her potential,” said Stuart Gulliver, group chief executive of HSBC. The bank recently put on rainbow colors at its Hong Kong headquarters’ “Symphony of Lights” show in support of the LGBT community.
Gulliver stressed that, from a commercial perspective, a “truly inclusive internal environment” is good for business.He said: “You want the best people for jobs regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual preference. Limiting access to talent because of prejudice makes no sense.
”For business on the Chinese mainland, a rapidly changing market, the first thing that comes along is people, said Helen Wong, deputy chairman, president and CEO of HSBC China. However, the latest internal survey shows that most LGBT people are still hiding, she added.
“It’s a bit disappointing. Little improvement has been made in the past year,” said Todd Sears, founder and principal of Out Leadership. He pointed out non-discrimination legislation has yet to cover the LGBT group in town.
“Hong Kong needs to adopt better anti-discrimination policies for the LGBT community to make it a better place to do business,” he said.“Where LGBT people are protected, they are more productive, happier and stay with their employers longer. That’s why companies care,” Sears added.
“I never see gay people differently. I look at people on their abilities,” said Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group. He said it needs a diverse team to serve all kinds of customers around the world. “The broader base of employees you have, the stronger the business will be.”
Leaders need to show the team that they support LGBT people, said Lisa Robins, Asia-Pacific head of global transaction banking at Deutsche Bank AG. “It’s not good enough to be silent.”
“Things are changing in a good way. The younger generation is much more open,” said Seiji Yasubuchi, president and CEO of GE Capital Japan, adding that more than half of his company’s young employees have LGBT friends.
China Daily By Emma Dai in Hong Kong