The World Economic Forum Launches an LGBTI Partnership - Perspectives on NGLCC Global’s Role in the Economic Ecosystem
For the first time, the theme of LGBTI inclusion took the mainstage at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual conference in Davos, to launch its LGBTI programmatic work, the “Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality”. With this launch, the WEF joins other leading economic development institutions to advance the economic empowerment and inclusive growth strategies for LGBTI people – an emerging pathway that could potentially offer numerous new institutional levers of change. For the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), and its global network of 14 LGBTI Chambers of Commerce around the world, we’re thrilled to see this launch and also stand ready with our trusted expertise that will drive this new economic agenda.
The “Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality” is a WEF-housed program that currently convenes Accenture, Deutsche Bank, EY, Mastercard, Microsoft, Omnicom Group, and Salesforce. At its core, the partnership will seek to operationalize the UN’s Standards of Conduct for Business Tackling Discrimination Against LGBTI People by providing tools and resources to the companies who have already shown support. The discussion brought together senior representatives including the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. She discussed the imperative for corporations to stand up for LGBTI people in situations of vulnerability, and that the LGBTI community should always be consulted in this process. Other panelists, particularly executives from Accenture and Deutsche Bank, spoke to the business case for engaging LGBTI people and why it makes economic sense, particularly as it relates to their internal diversity and inclusion agendas. The theme among all of the speakers was that they can do more and that the private sector is “not there yet”.
NGLCC is at the tip of the spear of this global economic ecosystem, built around the partnership of the private sector, governments, the international community, LGBTI Chambers of Commerce, and LGBTI business owners. Acknowledging the UN Standards mandate for corporations to act in the public sphere for the LGBTI community, we offer a list of emerging trends that we recommend the WEF and corporations to consider. This includes the following four patterns:
1. Re-conceptualize and promote the resilience and strength of the LGBTI community
Globally, we must always work to combat the challenges that LGBTI people experience. Equally, we need to discuss the LGBTI community along the lines of our collective resilience, including how we are job creators and contribute to stronger social and economic outcomes. The private sector needs to see the comparative advantage that LGBTI people and business owners bring, including how LGBTI business owners can be part of supply chains, as just one example.
- The work of the 14 affiliate LGBT Chambers of Commerce in the NGLCC Global Network continues to showcase LGBTI people as economic drivers in their country, and governments are starting to take notice. During the Uruguayan LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference, the two Uruguayan national presidential candidates attended the event to learn more about the LGBT Chamber model as a driving force for economic growth and empowerment.
- In 2018, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, recognized the economic contributions that LGBTI people make to their local economies and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NGLCC to conduct research in Latin America and the Caribbean on LGBTI economic inclusion. During the ceremony, the Secretary-General posed the question, “Are we okay with missing out on the contributions those 40 million [LGBTI] people could make to achieving greater prosperity in our region?”
2. Promote transgender people who are opening doorways for the overall LGBTI community – particularly in the Global South
As trans-led initiatives and organizations begin to better focus on the specific needs of trans people, they find that the benefits are rewarding to the visibility and progress of the overall LGBTI community.
- This is seen in our partner’s emerging LGBTI Chamber in India, that is trans-led and will focus greatly on trans business owners – in light of the various legal and social changes on behalf of gender non-conforming people, well before the decriminalization of same-sex acts.
- NGLCC Global affiliate partner, the Mexican Federation of LGBT Entrepreneurs (FME-LGBT), hosts a job training program for incarcerated LGBTI inmates in Mexico City and then works with corporations to hire them. Through this program, FME has taught dozens of transgender inmates to help prepare them for life and work upon their release from prison.
3. Utilize economic empowerment to influence culture and thus combat backlashes
With recent backsliding on the protections for LGBTI people, the private sector has been integral in speaking out on behalf of the LGBTI community.
- In 2018, 32 corporations and NGOs signed onto a letter urging Brazil’s presidential candidates to recognize the importance of LGBTI inclusion.
4. Strengthen and expand collaborations between multinational corporations and LGBTI business owners
Engagement and partnership with the private sector have proved wildly successful with our partners throughout the NGLCC Global Network and speaks to Commissioner Bachelet’s point that LGBTI civil society must be at the proverbial table.
As the WEF launches this work alongside private sector champions to operationalize the UN Standards of Conduct for Business, the NGLCC Global Network stands ready to sit at the table and help scale-up the economic ecosystem that will continue to help empower LGBTI people, business owners, and civil society organizations.