Apple Computer CEO, Tim Cook, made some sensation a while back last year 2014, when he became the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to publicly identify as gay.
World Economic Forum seems more regularly like a discussion that is centered amongst executives’ roles and privileges; that is, ahead of the regular employee workplace issues. Imagine the insecurity of the world’s top executives, politicians, academics and other figureheads — all of them in exalted positions — consoling each other about the perils of having an openly gay and friendly workplace; which is primarily amongst their own set, aside from considering how it would “trickle down” to the rest of the workforce.
Would the world’s corporate executives be less than timid, so as to make LGBT issues anything more than just an academic consideration?
Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a LGBT equal rights group, notes that the World Economic Forum has taken the issues from the unofficial breakfast talk, now into the official agenda. HRC says “With this year’s inclusion of LGBT rights on the WEF’s agenda, it has become an important ally in furthering the global discussion of LGBT equality. It should be lauded for taking on the important topic of workplace inclusion, and take steps to have an even more robust conversation on the human rights of LGBT people at next year’s meeting.”
For years, LGBT issues have been relatively taboo topic at Davos, since many of the participating nations and their figureheads include those like Russia, Nigeria and Uganda; whereas, sensitivity to human rights, gay and transgender topics have not exactly been the norm. In those nations, the record for human rights among LGBT people is known to be repressive and violent; that is, sometimes providing no specific laws and/or enforcement for protection. Meanwhile, same-sex acts are illegal and can be punishable by death in many of the nations of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, such as for example: Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and United Arab Emirates.
This last Thursday at Davos, executives considered the importance of being ‘proactive’ about LGBT issues, so as to lower turnover and dissatisfaction amongst company employees. The idea is that an openly gay senior executive, such as Tim Cook, is both identifiable and encouraging to regular employees that happen to be gay. LGBT employees are 85% more likely to come out of the closet themselves with such realizations, if they see someone openly gay at the top. Research also shows that workers who are closeted are 70% more likely to leave their employer, seeking a work environment that’s conducive and friendly to LGBT issues.
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