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Business Standards to Tackle LGBTI Discrimination Launched

Global Standards for Business to Tackle LGBTI Discrimination Launched in Melbourne Today

UN officials, business leaders and activists launch global standards to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people in the workplace and beyond. Adidas, Aviva, Ben & Jerry, Intel, Fidelity International, Mastercard, McKinsey, Twitter, Ralph Lauren, REXL Group and Westpac join growing list of early adopters.

MELBOURNE (5 DECEMBER 2017) – United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore today presented global LGBTI equality standards for the business community at a special event co-hosted with ACON’s Pride in Diversity and Baker McKenzie, and attended by former High Court judge the Hon. Michael Kirby, President of ACON Justin Koonin, Baker McKenzie Australia Managing Partner Anthony Foley.

Drawing on good practice from around the world, the standards, developed by the UN Human Rights Office, set out actions companies can take to protect the rights of LGBTI individuals. These include eliminating unfair treatment in the workplace, making sure business operations do not contribute to discrimination against customers, suppliers or members of the public, and working with business partners to address discriminatory practices up and down the supply chain. They also encourage companies to stand up for the rights of LGBTI people in the countries where they operate – including through advocacy and support for local organizations.

United Nations Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore expressed hope that following its “resounding affirmation of marriage equality” Australia and its private sector would step up “efforts to promote respect for LGBTI people across the Asia-Pacific region”. “Laws in twenty countries in the Asia-Pacific region (12 in Asia, eight in the Pacific) criminalize same sex couples – an attack on the fundamental rights of LGBTI people, such legal frameworks erode equality, foster fear and, incidentally, are just bad for business.”, she said.

Speaking at the event, National Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie Australia, Anthony Foley, said he was proud that Baker McKenzie was among the 32 world-leading companies supporting the new standards at launch: " Inclusion and diversity form a key part of Baker McKenzie's global strategy. Senior Champions, like Craig Andrade, Baker McKenzie's Sydney based partner and head of the firm's Australian LGBTI & Allies network, play a critical role in achieving our objectives by acting as role models to others and by providing visible advocacy in order to influence others and to enable change.”

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby also expressed support: “''Australian experience has shown that embracing diversity in the workplace is not only good for human rights. It's also good for the bottom line and the shareholders. This is a case where ethical corporate decisions pay off. Which is why Australian companies are endorsing this UN strategy.''

Alice Cope, the Executive Director at the Global Compact Network Australia said: “Business action to respect and support human rights of LGBTI people is an example of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the UN Global Compact human rights principles in practice. We encourage Australian signatories to express support for these Standards and continue implementing them to foster much needed social change in Australia and the region.”

The Standards of Conduct build on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. They are the product of a year-long process of consultations facilitated by the UN Human Rights Office and the Institute for Human Rights and Business, including regional meetings with leading business representatives in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Among the 35 companies that have already indicated their support are Accenture, Adidas, Aviva, Baker McKenzie, Ben & Jerry, BNP Paribas, Burberry, The Coca-Cola Company, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Dow Chemicals, EDF, EY, Fidelity International, The Gap, Godrej Industries, Google, HP, IKEA Group, Intel, The Lalit Hotels, Mastercard, Microsoft, McKinsey, Oath, Orange, Ralph Lauren, REXL, SAP, Simmons & Simmons, Spotify, Twitter, Virgin, Vodafone and Westpac. They represent more than 3 million employees and more than 1 trillion dollars in revenues every year.

The five standards:

• RESPECT the human rights of their LGBTI workers, customers and members of the public

• ELIMINATE workplace discrimination against LGBTI employees

• SUPPORT LGBTI employees at work

• PREVENT discrimination and related abuses against LGBTI customers, suppliers and distributors – and insist that suppliers do the same

• STAND UP for the human rights of LGBTI people in the communities where companies do business

In the past few months, the standards have been launched in New York, Mumbai, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Washington, Geneva and Melbourne, with further launches planned in Tokyo, Nairobi and Sao Paulo.

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