Globe’s Top Firms: Why LGBTQ+ Inclusion is Good for Business

Firms including JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft & American Express support an Open for Business report urging investors to develop LGBTQ+-friendly strategies

A report partnered by 36 of the world’s biggest companies sets out why LGBTQ+ inclusion is not just the right thing to do, but also much better for business.

The report, entitled Investor Guide to LGBTQ+ Inclusion: Enhancing Business Through LGBTQ+ Inclusive ESG Strategies, is sponsored by Deutsche Bank.

According to Open for Business, it “examines how the 290 largest American, British, German and Australian listed companies integrate LGBTQ+ inclusion within their ESG strategies and presents fresh data on the connections between inclusion and business performance”.

Fabrizio Campelli, Deutsche Bank’s Head of Corporate Bank and Investment Bank, writes: “Taking an inclusive approach to all perspectives and identities allows us to make better business decisions, attract and retain top talent and deepen our impact.

“We see this play out across our own company every day and this research underlines the importance of this approach, by demonstrating a strong connection between financial performance and LGBTQ+ inclusion.”

Fabrizio Campelli, Deutsche Bank’s Head of Corporate Bank and Investment Bank

Fabrizio adds: “Evidence from this report shows how there is increasing investor demand for LGBTQ+ equality and that LGBTQ+ inclusive companies have stronger reputation and brand preference.

“Companies can maximise their value by aligning with best practices for LGBTQ+ inclusion as a critical component of social sustainability.”

Open for Business CEO Dominic Arnell

What is Open for Business?

Open for Business is a ‘coalition of global companies making the case that inclusive and diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth’.

The report adds: ‘Open For Business coalition partners share a deep-rooted commitment to diversity and inclusion in their own workplaces and they are concerned about the spread of anti-LGBTQ+ policies in many countries in which they operate.’

The coalition partners are: ABB, Accenture, American Express, AT&T, BCG, Becton Dickinson, Brunswick, C&A, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, DLA Piper, Dow, EY, Google, GSK, HSBC, IBM, Inditex, JPMorgan Chase &Co., KPMG, The Lego Group, LinkedIn, Linklaters, L’Oreal, Mastercard, McKinsey & Company, Meta, Microsoft, Pinsent Masons, PwC, RELX Group, SIDLEY, Standard Chartered, Unilever, Virgin, Wabtec Corporation.

Open for Business CEO Dominic Arnell writes: “What exactly is the investor case? What should investors look for when they’re assessing LGBTQ+ inclusion in a company?

“And what should we make of the apparent backlash against ESG and DEI? This report, the Investor Guide to LGBTQ+ Inclusion, provides a comprehensive perspective on these questions.”

What are the findings?

It finds that company LGBTQ+ transparency is linked to commercial performance, including:

  • Stronger financial performance
  • Stronger reputation and brand preference
  • Access to LGBTQ+ consumer spending
  • Better diversity outcomes.

Of the 290 companies, those with the top 25 LGBTQ+ transparency scores are 2.3 times more profitable than the bottom 25.

At the same time, 92% of companies list DEI as a material issue in their materiality assessments.

This means that they believe poor DEI performance could threaten the long-term viability of their business.

The following image shows the top five companies by country according to their LGBTQ+ transparency score.

The top five companies by country according to their LGBTQ+ transparency score

The background: The ‘noisy backlash’

The report makes one thing very clear – businesses should ignore the “noisy backlash” against ESG and press ahead with embedding LGBTQ+ inclusion into their strategies.

So what does it mean when it talks about the backlash?

The report says: “The rapid uptake of ESG has been followed by a backlash; partly a politicised attack on so-called ‘woke capitalism’, but also some genuine concern and confusion.”

It goes on to bust some myths, including:

1 - Companies are stepping back from ESG – it was a fad

Finding: “While companies are becoming more considered in their communications on ESG issues, evidence suggests initiatives and actions continuing apace. When it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion, some say we’ve reached ‘peak pride’. On the contrary, as this report shows, corporate support is deep-rooted and anchored in drivers of business success.”

2 - ESG ratings are a mess – simplistic, confused and inconsistent

Finding: “ESG is a nascent field, and these are intrinsically complicated topics – it’s not surprising ratings have challenges. On LGBTQ+ inclusion, assessing corporate performance is especially complex.”

3 - ESG runs counter to fiduciary responsibility

Finding: “. Legal opinion holds that fiduciary duty not only permits business leaders to consider the interests of a broader range of stakeholders, it may actually require them to do so.

“In this report we show the commercial imperatives for including LGBTQ+ people in the range of corporate stakeholders.”

4 - ESG is politically motivated ideology

Finding: “Many ESG issues directly hit the bottom line – it is therefore commercial imperatives that drive company engagement with them, not political ideology.”

Amy Brachio, Global VC Sustainability, EY

Advancing LGBTQ+ equality at work is critical

Amy Brachio, Global VC Sustainability, EY, said: “Organisations play a critical role in advancing LGBTQ+ equality – as a business imperative yes, but also now more than ever in the wake of growing DEI backlash and politicisation.

“The report contains some compelling data for leaders to take a very hard look at.”

Amy added: “Companies that are transparent on LGBTQ+ inclusion have superior financial performance, improved brand reputation and enhanced talent attraction.

“Many ‘S in ESG’ issues disproportionately affect the LGBTQ+ community – human rights, access to finance and access to healthcare – and this report also looks at how companies are choosing to tackle these issues.”

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