Since 2015, the American political movement against LGBTQIA+ individuals has significantly grown. There have been over 470 anti-LGBTQIA+ legislative proposals, including bans on drag performances, restrictions on the use of gender pronouns such as “they” and “theirs” in schools, and limitations on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth.
These bills fundamentally restrict human rights. These developments do not stop at the borders of America. Anti-LGBTQIA+ movements exist in various European countries. In Poland, there are LGBTQIA+ “free zones,” and in Hungary, education and depiction of homosexuality and gender reassignment are prohibited in the media and schools. Globally, there are more than 70 countries where homosexuality remains punishable by law, with some even imposing the death penalty. In summary, these are concerning developments, to say the least.
Companies are increasingly focused on promoting ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) practices. The “E” of ESG has seen the most progress. Several large and impactful events are organized around the “E,” such as the annual climate summit and the Conference of the Parties, both taking place in Dubai this year. A city where homosexuality is banned, and showing affection to your partner is heavily punished.
The “S” aspect of ESG generally receives less attention, which surprises me. How does this happen? The statement, “You need a world to live on,” is familiar to me. But who wants to live in a world where they can’t be themselves? A world where love is a reason to be killed. A world where love causes you to be unwelcome in your own family or country. A world where expressing love makes you less than others.
It is not easy to engage with social issues. Addressing social issues requires reflection—reflection on one’s own behaviour and beliefs, reflection on the privileges one enjoys. Are we ready for that? I believe we are. It is time to engage in conversations with each other. It is time to reflect and become aware of the role we play.
Companies play an essential role in creating social change. Regardless of the size of your organisation, you have a role to play. It starts with personal attention. Begin by asking your colleagues, friends, or partners, “What do you need?”
Companies have an essential role in achieving greater acceptance for everyone, including the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride is approaching. What will your organisation do? In what authentic way will your organisation show support for the community? How will you demonstrate that you are allies? Your support is needed. Also, when we are not dancing in colourful outfits under the sun to the popular Cher and ABBA songs. That’s the easy part. It’s easy to just transform your logo into the LGBTQIA+ flag. Speak up and show that your organisation stands for equal rights, for everyone.
Be open-minded and have conversations with your friends, colleagues, or partners. Are you ready?
Julie Hemels – Hoff
Founder and CEO of Blueyse