The value of inclusivity

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There's more to diversity than addressing the gender imbalance, writes Billy MacInnes

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Billy

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29 March 2019 | 0

An interesting press release popped into my e-mail inbox the other day from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). What does that have to do with the technology industry you might ask?

At first sight, not a lot. But you need to know a few things about the HRC first. Founded in 1980, it describes itself as “the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organisation” in the US with more than 3 million members and supporters https://www.hrc.org/hrc-story. Its stated objective is a “world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community”.

The HRC is also responsible for the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) which is a benchmarking tool for LGBTQ workplace equality. According to the HRC, the CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria in four broad categories:
• Non-discrimination policies
• Employment benefits
• Supporting an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility including public commitment to LGBTQ equality
• Responsible citizenship

The good news for the tech industry is that IT companies score very highly on the CEI. Many of them achieve a 100 rating, including the likes of Adobe, Apple, Avnet, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Symantec, Tech Data and Western Digital. In fact, it’s remarkable how few of the more than 100 IT companies on the list (which can be found here https://www.hrc.org/campaigns/corporate-equality-index) score less than 100.

Those on the list with the top score of 100 had to meet new and higher benchmarks this year. As the HRC notes, the companies have been designated “a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality for their efforts on behalf of their LGBTQ workers at a time when the Trump-Pence administration is doubling down on its sustained attack on LGBTQ people – from efforts to ban qualified transgender people from serving in the military, to a “license to discriminate” order targeting LGBTQ people as they go about their daily lives”.

HRC president Chad Griffin adds that the top-scoring companies are “not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the United States, they are applying these policies to their global operations and impacting millions of people beyond our shores”.

In a statement accompanying the results, Beck Bailey, acting direct of the HRC Foundation’s workplace equality programme, argues that tech companies “know that a diverse and inclusive workplace fuels innovation. That’s why we continue to see leadership across the sector, including dozens of employers earning the distinction of being a best place to work for LGBTQ equality in the 2019 Corporate Equality Index”.

That’s what the HRC has to do with technology.

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