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29 January 2018
Davos: UN Human Rights Chief sets out new global standards for business to tackle LGBTI descrimination
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights presents global standards at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Nineteen more companies join growing list of early adopters, including Airbnb, Airbus, AXA, Barilla, Bloomberg L.P., Cisco Systems Inc., Gol, Hermes Investment Management, Lloyd’s, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics - North America, Marriott International, MAS Holdings, Nasdaq, New York Life, Santander Group, Tesco, Trillium Asset Management, Unilever, Vert Asset Management, Xerox

DAVOS-KLOSTERS/GENEVA (26 JANUARY 2018) – Speaking at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein presented global standards designed to help business promote equality for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people in the workplace and beyond. 

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.

“The private sector has a crucial leadership role in ensuring that their LGBTI employees experience dignity and equal opportunities in the workplace and beyond. Companies that take action to end discrimination and support LGBTI communities can be a motor for change," the High Commissioner said. “These Standards provide the most comprehensive set of benchmarks for responsible corporate behaviour on LGBTI issues. A company of any nationality, size and location or sector can find no better vehicle to correct inequities and end discrimination brought about by prejudice.”

The High Commissioner was speaking at a panel discussion titled “Free and Equal: Standing Up for Diversity”, which also included Vittorio Colao, Vodafone Group Chief Executive Officer, and Jin Xing, Choreographer and Founder of the Jin Xing Dance Theatre Shanghai, and was moderated by Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief, of The Economist magazine.

Ana Botín, Executive Chairman of Banco Santander, said: “Santander – with more than 200,000 employees and 133 million customers around the world – embraces diversity in all its forms. We are proud to support the UN’s LGBTI standards of conduct for business.”

Thomas Buberl, CEO of AXA, indicated: “We want all AXA employees to have the same rights and opportunities and this starts by valuing them for who they are. By bringing their whole selves to work, they lead by example and allow us to better serve our customers’ needs through constant innovation. We truly believe that the UN LGBTI Standards should resonate throughout our actions and inspire other players.”

Alison Horner, Tesco’s Chief People Officer said “I am extremely proud to be pledging Tesco’s support for the UN Standards of Conduct. These standards really chime with our core value at Tesco of “we treat people the way they want to be treated”. We are committed to ensuring all our 450,000 colleagues around the world have fair and equal opportunities where they can truly be themselves without fear of judgement or discrimination. We have been a proud supporter of LGBTI rights for many years and encourage our suppliers and partners to join in our commitment.”

Marjorie Strachan, RBS’ Head of Inclusion, said “At RBS we are proud to support the UN Standards of Conduct to tackle LGBT+ discrimination in the workplace.  The standards send a powerful message not only to our bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender colleagues and customers, but also to the wider community, that there is no room for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Marriott International is committed to welcoming all and advancing human rights as we strive to be a force for good in the communities where we do business,” said Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott International’s Global Chief Commercial Officer. “To further reinforce our inclusive policies and values, we are proud to support the United Nations LGBTI equality standards.”

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 54 companies that have already indicated their support are: Accenture, Adidas, AirBNB, Airbus, Aviva, AXA, Baker McKenzie, Barilla, Ben & Jerry, Bloomberg L.P., BNP Paribas, Burberry, Cisco Systems Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Dow Chemicals, EDF, EY, Fidelity International, The Gap, Godrej Industries, Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, Google, Hermes Investment Management, HP, IKEA Group, Intel, The Lalit Hotels, Lloyd’s, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics - North America, MAS Holdings, Marriott International, Mastercard, Microsoft, McKinsey, Nasdaq, New York Life, Oath, Orange, Ralph Lauren Corp, RELX Group, RBS, Santander Group, SAP, Simmons & Simmons, Spotify, Tesco, Twitter, Trillium Asset Management, Unilever, Vert Asset Management, Virgin, Vodafone, Westpac and Williams-Sonoma Inc., Xerox. Between them, these companies represent more than 3.5 million employees and more than 1.3 trillion USD 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
For more information: unfe.org/standards