Is HR doing enough for LGBT employees?

Following Taiwan’s landmark gay marriage bill last week, HRD finds out if more can be done for LGBTs at work

Is HR doing enough for LGBT employees?

Is enough being done in Asia for LGBT employees?

Last Friday (16 May), Taiwan became the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriages. The new law will allow same-sex marriages between Taiwanese citizens, or with foreigners whose countries recognise the union. It also permits adoption of children biologically related to at least one partner.

The landmark move begs the question whether a ripple effect would take place across the rest of the region. And as LGBT individuals inch closer to attaining equal rights in their personal lives, what does it mean for their professional lives?

HRD spoke to Nikki Davies, Head of Campus Recruitment, Diversity & Inclusion, Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse to find out if more can be done for LGBT employees at work.

“Formal workplace policies are only one element to protect LGBT employees and I believe that these policies are evolving and progressing to be more inclusive,” Davies said.

“As has been seen across Asia, the changing legislative landscape creates an environment where companies are empowered to review, revise and adapt their workplace policies to be more inclusive and protect the rights of employees.”

In terms of numbers, a 2017 study by Mercer found that while many global organisations have adopted overall diversity and inclusion polices, only about half have separate policies to accommodate LGBT employees.

The study found that one in three firms don’t have a designated support program for LGBT employees, while a fifth of organisations rely on other corporate policies to accommodate individuals.

Additionally, about two-thirds of employers have a separate anti-discrimination policy that covers LGBT employees.

Only a minority (28%) of companies allow their employees to self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender for the purposes of workforce analytics.

However, about 8 in 10 companies worldwide offer the same life, medical, and retirement benefits to LGBT couples.

Firms who do not offer equal benefits to such employees cited various reasons. Half said they are constrained by national laws, while roughly one-third reported they do not offer benefits due to cultural, societal preconceptions, or the company’s inability to implement such a benefit plan.

As Guy Ryder, director-general at International Labour Organisation (ILO) had previously urged that “no LGBTI worker should be left behind”, how can HR work towards achieving a genuinely inclusive workplace?

“A guiding principle for me is that diversity is a reality and inclusion is a choice,” Davies told HRD.

“Having a strong D&I strategy sets the tone from the top and provides a framework to guide all aspects of conducting business. It provides structure for language used, decisions made, process, policy, investments – in fact all aspects involved in how a business conducts itself.”

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