Championing equality in the workplace
An increasing number of foreign and domestic companies in China are becoming more inclusive places for LGBT people as employers begin to realize the importance of retaining talent, regardless of their sexual orientation
Workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people can be prevalent in some parts of China, but advocates and business leaders say that those in big cities and certain industries are becoming increasingly accepting of these individuals.
“The work environment for LGBT employees is slowly improving in first-tier cities, though the overall situation is still one of overwhelming stigma and silence for tens of millions of LGBT workers in China,” said Steven Paul Bielinski, an American expat in Shanghai who founded the nonprofit business network called WorkForLGBT.
Bielinski is also the organizer of the Annual China LGBT Talent Job Fair, which was held in Shanghai at the end of May. The event this year attracted 34 companies — double the number of last year’s fair — and more than 500 job seekers.
Among the companies were a number of big names from the United States, including Starbucks, Edelman, Ford, PwC, 3M, Gap, Citi and Morgan Stanley. There were also large multinational organizations from other countries as well as a handful of Chinese companies.
“All 34 companies that registered for our job fair this year pledged their support for inclusive policies for LGBT employees, including prohibiting LGBT workplace discrimination,” said Bielinski.
Experts said that an increasing number of international and local firms have realized that attracting and retaining LGBT people in their companies can be the difference between failure and success given today’s highly competitive labor and talent market.
In China’s first-tier cities, namely Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, human resource departments and business leaders have started to realize that when they serve the interests of their LGBT employees, they are at the same time advancing the business interests of the company.
Edelman China, a public relations company that has headquarters in New York and Chicago, was one of the participants at this year’s job fair, offering jobs from internship positions to senior management roles in brand planning, creative roles as well as digital and social media management. It received about 40 resumes at the end of the fair.
“We have an initiative called Edelman Equal, aimed at incorporating inclusiveness, equality and diversity in the company. As a company in the communications and creativity sector, we hope our employees could be their true selves instead of being framed by all kinds of stereotypes. In that
Workplace cultures should welcome all employees, regardless of sexual orientation