Overall performances of companies over sexual diversity have improved, but challenges in workplace remain.
Photo: Community Business CEO Fern Ngai (left) and Program Manager Ivy Wong (right) present findings for the LGBT+ Inclusion Report 2017. (Credit: Jasmine Lee)
Major banks have topped a workplace inclusion index on sexual orientation released by a local non-profit organisation campaigning for corporate responsibility and diversity in Asia.
On 17 May, Community Business held their LGBT+ Inclusion Awards gala dinner at the Shangri-La Hong Kong Hotel where they announced the recipients of the LGBT+ Inclusion Awards and the top ranking companies on their LGBT+ Inclusion Index report. The Gala was organised to take place on that day in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT), where over 300 guests were in attendance. The following day Community Business held a media briefing at the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel, where speaker and Community Business CEO Fern Ngai presented the report’s key findings.
The Index consisted of a total of 51 companies who were evaluated, some of which chose to remain anonymous and therefore their names are not made public. Key findings of the Inclusion Index include an overall average score of 49.17 out of 100 in the evaluations, while SMEs had an average score of 39.43. The exact scores of each company are also deliberately left out of the report due to the increase in standards, therefore the report is more focused on relativity than percentage.
The top performing companies are all banks, with the top three being Goldman Sachs, HSBC, and BlackRockF. When asked about why banks have the highest scores on the index, Ngai stated:
“The banks have been under the diversity inclusion journey for many years, some of them over ten years. And so they really understand the subject very well, and they embed diversity inclusion so much into the way they work and their business practices. You see that they really walk the talk […] Banking is an industry where they rely on global talent from everywhere in the world, and there’s always been an intense war for talent in that industry, so they’re definitely very up to speed and leading in this area.”
Notable changes that were made to the Index include the introduction of an online submission process, the introduction of SME version of the evaluations, and an increased focus on the transgender and intersex communities in the report. There was also a new award created called the Unsung Hero Award, which is given to an individual who “has worked tireless behind the scenes to champion, progress and support the promotion of LGBT+ inclusion in Hong Kong”.
Ngai acknowledged that one area of improvement would be to increase the amount of industry diversity in regards to the participants of the Inclusion Index. While they are pleased to have new industries participating, there is room for more such as those from the technology, accounting, and insurance sectors. A specific area of weakness in company performance was regarding employee benefits. Since many LGBT+ employees are not comfortable with coming out in the workplace, they do not take advantage of the employee benefits that may be available to them. Despite these concerns, overall performances of companies have improved at all levels, with the overall average score increasing almost seven points from 42.7 since 2015.
With same-sex relationships still unrecognised by the government and over 70% of LGBT+ members who are not comfortable with being out in the workplace, Ngai said that there is still “a long way to go” for the LGBT+ struggle. This is further indicated by the lack of Asian spokespersons for the community, noting Paul Choi with Goldman Sachs as one of the few.
The full report will be published on 21 June.
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