Diversity and inclusion experts share their views on Pride in the workplace.
Photo: Let’s Talk Corporate Pride event banner / Gay Games Hong Kong
As Pride Month draws to a close, conversations about diversity and inclusion have continued to feature in media headlines. In particular, the 2022 Hong Kong Gay Games have quickly become the centRe of public discussion. The event, open to participants of all sexual orientation, aims to “emancipate LGBTQ+ people all around the world through sport, arts and culture.”
This past Thursday, however, GGHK took a brief step away from pride in sports to address the issue of pride in the workplace. For its Coffee with Gay Games Webinar, GGHK gathered a panel of D&I experts to answer a simple question: “What does corporate pride mean to you?”
Creating safe spaces in the workplace
Thursday’s panellists agreed that corporate pride means creating a safer and more inclusive space for both customers and employees. Ken Leung, Corporate Outreach Manager for GGHK, stressed the importance of supporting diversity and inclusivity, especially in Asia.
“In Hong Kong, being identified as LGBTQ is considered a career hindrance”, Leung says.
Leung also claims that diversity initiatives are beneficial for recruitment and talent retention: “40% of job candidates will not consider job offers if they feel the company does not include them”.
At the same time, supporting D&I events such as GGHK can help businesses connect with value-driven consumers. Brands cannot rely on a purely philanthropic approach; they ultimately need to attract loyal customers who will come back time and time again.
“Whether they are drinking a Dom Perignon or a Hennessy, we want customers to feel secure in knowing that they are drinking something that represents diversity and inclusion,” says Greg Marley, Regional Human Resource Director Asia Oceania and Global Head of DEI at Moët Hennessy.
“Whether they are drinking a Dom Perignon or a Hennessy, we want customers to feel secure in knowing that they are drinking something that represents diversity and inclusion.”
— GREG MARLEY, REGIONAL HUMAN RESOURCE DIRECTOR ASIA OCEANIA AND GLOBAL HEAD OF DEI AT MOËT HENNESSY
Progress is happening
All four of Thursday’s panellists hailed the incredible progress that has taken place in the D&I space.
“20 years ago, there were not as many rainbow flags around in June,” Leung says.
Amy Tye, Senior Manager of Diversity and Responsible Business at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer also described the massive changes she has witnessed since joining the company.
“I used to remember people whispering about LGBTQ+ inclusion in the corridors. Now everybody has a rainbow flag.”
Progress has been especially prevalent in Hong Kong. Adrienne Davis, Senior Programme Manager at Community Business was pleased to share how requests for LGBTQ+ corporate education sessions now come in both Cantonese and English.
“Diversity and inclusion events are no longer seen as a Western concept attended exclusively by expats,” Adrienne tells listeners.
Another area of shared emphasis was the importance of celebrating diversity and inclusion year-round. Amy says that, while it is good to focus everyone’s attention, LGBTQ+ awareness and inclusivity should not be limited to one month.
“What are you doing year-round?” asks Adrienne. “We don’t want corporations to approach us once a year with some last-minute thing just for Pride Month.”
“We don’t want corporations to approach us once a year with some last-minute thing just for Pride Month.”
— ADRIENNE DAVIS, SENIOR PROGRAMME MANAGER AT COMMUNITY BUSINESS
Thursday’s speakers also addressed the issue of ‘rainbow capitalism’ and ‘pink-washing’. Pink-washing is where companies may use the rainbow flag as a way to brand itself as LGBTQ+ friendly, but do little in the way of meaningful D&I initiatives.
Amy Tye believes that everyone embraces LGBTQ+ inclusion in their own way and at their own pace. “Corporations need to take into account both local culture and corporate culture. Having some sort of rainbow flag or merchandise is better than nothing, and can be a positive start,” Amy says.
Adrienne echoes a similar sentiment: “Some companies will use the rainbow as a place to start, but we as consumers and responsible citizens need to understand if the company is not actually supporting their employees and not embracing pride year-round.”
How do we get started?
All four speakers agreed that for companies with minimal D&I initiatives, the easiest path to getting started is to ask for help. After all, D&I is one of the areas in business where people are not competing with each other, but instead are eager to share and learn from each other. Adrienne says: “Put your hand up. It’s going to be a little scary, and you might get some stuff wrong but that’s okay. Put your hand up and get started.”
Pre-registration is now open for GGHK 2022. Visit the GGHK website to learn more about how to get involved.