The Private Sector Must Take Action for LGBT+ Rights
By Jamie Forese and Bob Annibale, Co-leads Citi Pride Affinity June 03, 2019 10:15 AM
Pride Month is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the struggles, achievements and contributions of the LGBT+ community, and envision a path towards achieving full equality and inclusion. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York City in June 1969, when the LGBT+ community responded to years of police harassment and demanded their civil rights be respected, setting off a movement that continues around the world today.
While progress has been made in many countries, challenges to rights achieved and inclusion for the LGBT+ community have intensified in the U.S. and other countries.
While we have supported and experienced the evolution of LGBT+ rights both personally and professionally, Citi is present in a wide array of countries and jurisdictions where LGBT+ rights are not yet legally and socially accepted. We recognize the sometimes extreme challenges faced by the community and colleagues in a number of those countries, and are committed to ensuring that the rights of all LGBT+ employees are fully respected, covered by Citi policies and reflected in the diversity of our workplaces.
Citi’s Pride Affinity group, supported by 28 local, employee-led Citi Pride chapters globally, is committed to ensuring that we recruit, develop and leverage the skills and potential of our LGBT+ colleagues in an inclusive, open and safe environment. These networks are comprised of LGBT+ employees and allies from across the firm. We celebrate our expanding Citi Pride country networks, which now include Brazil, Mexico, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, the U.S. and the U.K.
We have made great strides as a company, but we have also set ambitious goals for the year ahead. We are sharing our experiences, achievements and challenges with other firms and, in turn, learning from those as well as other leading LGBT+ organizations. In the past two years alone, we have taken action on a number of initiatives that will impact not only our U.S. employees, but increasingly our colleagues around the world.
Significant efforts are underway in many of our countries, but with the significant support of our Legal, Human Resources, Diversity and Global Benefits colleagues, we are working to expand VOE, Self-ID, insurance and other benefits to LGBT+ and other partners globally, where permitted by law.
Citi joined with LGBT+, civil rights organizations and other firms in publically supporting the US Equality Act and transgender equality, which would expand civil, housing and employment rights achieved in the 1960’s to the LGBT+ community.
Last year we expanded the demographic questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in our Voice of the Employee survey to 39 countries, reaching 82 percent of our employee base. We will be expanding similar voluntary self-ID in our HR profiles as we undertake a detailed legal and data privacy analysis country by country. Responses to these voluntary questions will allow us to better understand the recruitment, progression and development needs and opportunities of our LGBT+ colleagues.
In the 50 years since Stonewall, we have been confronted by numerous struggles, from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, to working to gain acceptance in the military, rights and recognition for the Transgender community, and the fight for marriage equality. While today’s increasingly unfortunate public and legal challenges can leave us feeling like the rights we’ve earned are in danger of being reversed, that’s why, now more than ever, it is important that we continue to advocate for them.
We hope more companies join us in being a staunch champion of LGBT+ communities around the globe by creating policies and advocating for a more inclusive workplace.
In celebration of Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, Citi is replacing the red arc of our logo with a rainbow to show our colors in solidarity. (Photo credit: Jargapix Photography)
Bob Annibale is Global Director, Citi Inclusive Finance and Community Development; Jamie Forese is former President of Citi and Head of the Institutional Clients Group, retiring in June 2019