NGLCC Global and the Embassy of Sweden Co-Convene Experts to Discuss Inclusive Growth for LGBTI People

| By Phil Crehan

On National Coming Out Day and the eve of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, NGLCC Global and the Embassy of Sweden convened experts and hosted over 140 people to discuss the value of LGBTI inclusion for the public sector, private sector, and for international economic development efforts.   

Keynote speakers came from across the governmental and multilateral spectrum, and included the Ambassador of Sweden to the United States, Karin Olofsdotter; Swedish State Secretary from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ulrika Modéer; Ambassador Mike Kozak from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State; and the Director of Global Partnerships at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, Anita Bhatia.

As made clear by the Ambassador, Sweden remains a champion of support for the human rights and inclusion of LGBTI people through its international development assistance. During the event, the State Secretary from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden also discussed the importance of inclusive development for LGBTI people – “investments and support for the rights and inclusion of LGBTI people is both the right and the smart thing to do, for governments and private sector actors alike. In particular, strengthening economic opportunities for LGBTI people contributes to individual well-being, stronger labor market outcomes, more earnings for businesses, and stronger economic growth.” In essence, the keynote speakers spoke to the value of LGBTI inclusion for the public sector, both as a concern of well-being and dignity, as well as of the larger benefits to the social and economic fabric of our societies.

Speaking on behalf of the IFC, Anita Bhatia confirmed the World Bank’s dedication to addressing discrimination and violence against LGBTI people as a matter of inclusive economic development as well as gender equality. The IFC and World Bank will continue to develop the evidence-base on the link between discrimination, violence, and socioeconomic status, and will thus develop data-driven policies to bring LGBTI people out of the bottom 40% of societies.

Switching gears slightly, Director of NGLCC Global, Phil Crehan, moderated a discussion with experts who focus on the engagement of the private sector and multilateral institutions. This discussion included representatives from the Scandinavian LGBT Chamber of Commerce (SGLCC), the private sector (Accenture), and civil society (World Learning). Similar to Swedish efforts to advance rights and inclusion, some corporations have engaged LGBTI people on fair and equal terms and have seen the social and economic benefits this brings.

Speaking on behalf of Accenture, Nedra Dickson explained how the company engages numerous marginalized groups throughout the supply chain through their Supplier Diversity program. This is mutually beneficial to the supplier (who otherwise would have had to combat discrimination throughout the labor market), as well as to the corporation’s business operations. This is exemplified in Accenture’s dedication to engage marginalized groups – including LGBTI people – in 16 countries all over the world.

Director of NGLCC Global, Phil Crehan, remarked, “We see that some private sector actors are engaging LGBTI people, not only as a matter of workplace conditions but also within the cultural contexts they work. But we can get more corporations to consult, listen to, and invest in the efforts of LGBTI people to advance progress on their own terms. These efforts are not only beneficial to economic development and business goals, but more importantly speak to the ability to cultivate essential individual-level concerns, like dignity, well-being, and livelihoods.”

NGLCC Global looks forward to more discussions like this and will continue to convene a diverse array of public- and private-sector and multilateral institutions to advance the social and economic inclusion of LGBTI people everywhere.

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This piece was written with support from NGLCC Global intern, Charles Spinale. For more information on upcoming events, please click this link for an agenda of NGLCC Global LGBTI Business Week, which marks NGLCC’s second annual summit. For more information on NGLCC Global and the network of international LGBT Chambers of Commerce, please click here.