Why Robert Walters adopts a rainbow logo for Pride month

Every June, the collective sentiment is evident. San Francisco is proud. Every street corner and business front is emblazoned with rainbow flags, expressing solidarity and support for the LGBTQ+ community. We know from our other US offices that this explosion of support is not unique to San Francisco; New York, LA, and cities all over the United States recognize June as a month to promote justice and equality, and celebrate progress for the LGBTQ+ community. 2019's Pride celebration was especially significant, as it marked the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots.

2019 saw many positive strides in queer liberation.

  • The House passed the Equality Act in May, which extended civil rights protections to gay and transgender people.

  • Same-sex marriage was legalized in Austria, Nuevo León, Mexico, Taiwan, and Ecuador.

  • Homosexuality was decriminalized in Angola in January of 2019, and Botswana, in June 2019.

  • Conversion therapy is now banned in New Hampshire, New York, and Puerto Rico. (Did you know there are no laws prohibiting conversion therapy in 32 U.S. states and 4 U.S. territories?)

We’ve also seen many important “firsts”, such as the election of the first openly gay state governor in the U.S., and the first openly gay album in India. In the UK, adoption has been opened up to queer families, and schools in England are now required to provide children with an understanding of diverse family structures.

Yet, progress is slow. In April 2019, the ban on transgender military personnel went into effect--a huge setback for trans individuals who are already subject to high rates of harrassment, hate crimes, discrimination, and suicide.

Robert Walters dawns a rainbow logo in June. However, the reason for Pride is not lost on us. We seek to do more than commodify awareness (see: pinkwashing); We have no interest in showing superficial support.

At Robert Walters, we are in a unique position to alter the future of the workplace. Globally, we are committed to diversity, taking actionable steps to create better understanding. Over the last few years we have hosted the "LGBTs in the Japanese Labour Market", a seminar for corporate human resource officials. We also participated in "Tokyo Rainbow Pride," one of the largest LGBTQ+ events in Japan, and will be participating in Pride in London which takes place on July 6th. We host frequent events (see: San Francisco Diversity & Inclusion, Los Angeles Diversity & Inclusion), and conduct research to assist companies in improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Robert Walters also partners with OUTstanding, a professional network for LGBT+ executives and their allies. While our efforts are evident, we know there is more to be done.

Why is diversity and inclusion important to Robert Walters?

Well for one, it’s our purpose to have a positive impact on the people, candidates, clients, and the communities where we operate. We believe that everyone (regarless of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic characteristics or information, marital status, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, and military or veteran status) has the right to work in an environment free from discrimination, victimization, bullying, and harrassment.

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, and therefore a person’s experience at work will largely affect their quality of life. We have a moral obligation to ensure that our own employees and the people we work with experience fairness, dignity, and respect in the workplace.

Today, 93% of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. have included “sexual orientation” in their nondiscrimination policies, and 85% include “gender identity” (HRC: Corporate Equality Index 2019). Despite these important changes, fear and ostracization in the workplace still persists:

  • 46% of LGBTQ workers say they are closeted at work

  • 31% of LGBTQ+ workers have reported feeling depressed or unhappy at work

  • 1-in-5 LGBTQ workers have been told they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner

  • Between 15% and 43% of LGBTQ+ workers have experienced being fired, denied promotions, or harassed on the job due to sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • LGBTQ people of color are twice as likely to report experiencing anti-LGBTQ discrimination when applying for jobs

Frustratingly, there is currently no federal law protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The lack of these protections hurts employees AND companies as a whole. Teams composed of disparate individuals are not only more successful than teams of identical backgrounds, but globally, LGBTQ+ inclusion in business is linked to “greater competitiveness and stronger financial results”. The US economy could save $9 billion annually if organizations implemented and consistently upheld diversity and inclusion policies for LGBTQ+ staff, according to a report by Out Now.

Final Thoughts

Early pride parades during the 60’s and 70’s were a temporary liberation from the threat of the public, when living proudly and openly was a privilege afforded mostly by white cis men. Today’s Pride may be more (unabashedly) glitter-filled than decades prior, but the purpose still remains clear. It’s a distinct opportunity to recognize how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. Robert Walters continues to be an ally, pushing for diversity and inclusion not only in our own company, but also for the companies we support in hiring.

“When an individual decides to be an ally, whether they realize it or not, they’re making a choice to be alarmed by and share the weight of the specific fear felt by people unlike themselves. From there, they can act from a place of understanding and support.”-Fortune


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