Being yourself in the workplace matters. And it matters so much that the number of companies that adopt inclusive policies is increasing. This movement allows employees to establish career and leadership plans, with the certainty that they will not be negatively affected by their gender identity or sexual orientation, in addition to being able to exercise their full potential being who they are in psychologically safe environments. For companies, a much healthier and more open corporate structure is created, which not only reflects the society we live in, but can also positively affect economic and innovation indicators. We have come a long way in this direction, but we are aware that there are still many challenges ahead.
When we talk about the importance of the role of companies in committing themselves to the State and society, we are talking about respecting and promoting human rights, promoting equal opportunities and fair treatment for people, and creating respectful and healthy environments. These are just a few examples of what companies can and should do. Other examples of actions and commitments can be found on the LGBTI+ Business and Rights Forum website, to which the company I work, Intel, has been a signatory since 2019 and we are faithful to these commitments. So, the invitation for other companies to join us in this important mission is already here.
In the past year, the United States has come a long way on the issue of corporate social responsibility with a record 206 of the largest corporations contributing input and information to the Supreme Court’s decision to ensure the protection of LGBTI+ people from discrimination in the workplace.
According to a survey by PwC, which interviewed 1,270 professionals from the public, private and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), only 30% of lesbians feel comfortable taking on their sexuality at work. For trans people and transvestites, it is even more difficult.
The NGO Transgender Europe (TGEU) brings alarming figures on the trans and transvestite population, starting with the terrible first position that Brazil occupies in being the country that kills the most trans and transvestites in the world. Furthermore, this population has a life expectancy of only 35 years old. According to the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals (ANTRA), only about 0.02% of transgender people are at university, 72% do not have secondary education and 56% do not complete primary education.
It is worth mentioning here that the word “trans” is used to refer to a person who does not identify with the gender to which he was assigned at birth. However, the terms trans, transgender and transsexual can be used for both male and female identities. The term transvestite is used only for trans people with female identities.
There are a number of initiatives that seek to combat this scenario. For example, this year Intel Brazil and PrograMaria, an organization whose mission is to empower women through technology, created an initiative to shed some light on this scenario. Entitled #MaisDiversidadeNaTecnologia, the initiative includes educational lectures on career transition, diversity panels, biannual mentoring sessions with Intel leaders, among other activities, which also rely on TransEmpregos consulting, the largest and oldest professional employability project trans. If you are interested, you can find more information here.
The later maturing of the theme of inclusion of LGBTI+ people in the corporate world in Brazil may be related to the historical characteristics of this struggle. There are assessments, such as the one by the Ethos Institute, that this is due to the initial focus of this movement, much more aimed at transforming society as a whole than at business connections.
Anyway, the theme today is generating more and more debate and gaining support. Companies must be careful to understand that corporate LGBTI+ inclusion requires continuous efforts and cannot be restricted to commemorative dates such as Pride Month in June. It is necessary to raise awareness and educate employees about the topic, put this subject on the agenda of business meetings, help people with inclusive language primers and inappropriate jokes, bring experts to talk about the subject and distribute books and knowledge, as internal debates they need to be guided by a lot of study so that we can move forward and be part of the business culture and the inclusive journey of each one.
The needs of this group also need to be constantly debated, which can be done through the creation of affinity groups. At Intel, for example, the group that debates LGBTI+ issues is more than 25 years old. In Brazil, a Diversity and Inclusion committee was created, made up of employees from different areas, in which one of the pillars discusses LGBTI+ issues.
As happens in all groups that make up the diversity within a company, it is necessary to be aware that nothing changes in isolation. Seeking partnerships, specialized forums, debating the topic with other companies and raising awareness in the sectors in which we operate is part of this effort. With this commitment, the results will not be long in coming and the company will be able to retain more talent, gain in productivity, creativity, innovation and increased revenue, but the main factor is because it is the right thing to do.
The company will only create its brand in the market as a diverse and inclusive company if it wants to be intentional in this matter, not just because it needs to do not to fall behind others and lose competitiveness, but because it realized how much it is necessary and is part of our new normal.
Telma Gircis is Intel’s HR Leader for Latin America and Canada