Gay-friendly companies listed

International News Notes

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: August 8, 2009 in Beyond the Carolinas

Gay-friendly companies announced
COPENHAGAN — The International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (IGLCC) has released its first edition of the International Business Equality Index. The Index is the first-ever, worldwide ranking of LGBT-friendly companies.

The IGLCC named BT Group, IBM and The Dow Chemical Company the best corporations for LGBT employees. Other multinational companies participating in the Index include: AMR (parent company of American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle), Cisco Systems, ING, Intel, KPMG, Kraft Food, Merck, Novartis, Philips, SAP, TNT and UBS. In all, the companies represent 1.7 million employees in 227 countries. Their combined sales total $800 billion per year.

“The findings of the survey on which the Index is based are somewhat mixed, but definitively encouraging,” said IGLCC Secretary General, Pascal Lépine. “The vast majority of respondent corporations have Diversity and Inclusion programs and most explicitly include LGBT issues. We see from this survey that most of these companies take sexual orientation and gender identity matters very seriously. However, full equality is still years or decades away.”

The IGLCC said their Index provides “powerful examples of how diversity and inclusion programs can be very successful,” but also “point[s] to a darker side.” Almost 50 percent of global companies surveyed did not have any openly LGBT “Diversity & Inclusion” managers. They also found that openly gay men or lesbians were hard to find in upper-management.

The Index is the product of an international committee comprised of LGBT professionals living and working in eight different countries in Europe and North America. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) assisted.

The Index can be downloaded at www.iglcc.org.

Status granted
GENEVA — The United Nations granted official status to an LGBT Brazilian organization on July 27 and allowed it to participate in official discussions and meetings on topics ranging from health to human rights.

The Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians and Transsexuals’ status acceptance “marks the third consecutive year in which the U.N. Economic and Social Council has overturned a decision by a 19-country committee blocking LGBT organizations from participating in the U.N.’s debates,” The AP’s Bradley S. Klapper reported.

In past years, Swedish and Spanish LGBT organizations have been granted recognition as non-governmental organizations. They are among more than 3,000 non-governmental organizations and charities recognized by the global body worldwide.

“If the U.N. cannot be open and diverse, then we are really set for failure,” said Guilherme Patriota, a senior Brazilian diplomat. “There are another 400 NGOs seeking the same status next year. We need to keep working on making the U.N. more open to plurality and diversity.”

Patriota told The AP that the Brazilian LGBT group was a “valuable partner” of the nation’s AIDS prevention and condom promotion campaigns.

Soldiers join parade
AMSTERDAM — For the first time, the Dutch Ministry of Defense gave its permission for soldiers to participate in uniform in the Canal Parade, the city’s LGBT Pride parade.

The servicemembers did not have their own boat in the Canal Parade, but joined boats belonging to unions and companies like IBM, Shell and Philips.

A spokesperson for the Defense Ministry said that soldiers’ participation in the parade were individual decisions and that the ministry had no official involvement. Soldiers were allowed to participate “on condition that they wear suitable attire.”

In 2008, soldiers were forbidden from wearing their uniforms in the parade. The ministry said then that it would “impair the dignity of the uniform,” according to NRC Handelsblad.

A spokesperson for an LGBT military and soldiers group welcomed the ministry’s decision this year. “For soldiers too, it is better to be out of the closet than in the closet,” he said.

Poor health for gay youth
STOCKHOLM — A new report released by the Swedish National Institute of Public Health reveals LGBT youth in the nation suffer from poorer health than the general population. The report indicates higher instances of psychological problems and attempted suicides.

The report is based on a review of the health of LGBT youth ages 16-29 and is taken from a national health survey conducted between 2005 and 2008.

“Our survey shows a doubled and in some cases a trebled risk for impaired psychological well-being, stress, severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts among young sexual minorities,” Regina Winzer said in an institute press release.

Winzer said pressures to conform to group norms have negative effects on LGBT youths’ physical and mental well-being. The report shows that LGBT youth of both sexes are at higher risk of physical violence and threats of violence; gay and bisexual male youth are at a slightly higher risk than gay and bisexual females.

The organization said their report’s findings are similar to results from other studies around the world.