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SUSTAINABILITY | 28.06.2021

Why companies need to talk about LGBTQ diversity

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Pride Day is approaching, a date to remember that we have come a long way but there is still a way to go in terms of rights for the LGBTQ community. Workforces of large companies like MAPFRE reflect the diversity of society as a whole. Companies like ours play an important role in creating an atmosphere of respect for all employees, and we are committed to this cause.

In MAPFRE, we think of diversity as an ally that gives us a competitive advantage because of the significant opportunities and benefits it offers the company and because of our ongoing commitment to society.

Diversity management and the development of inclusive and diverse workplaces that promote equality of opportunity, a culture of respect and merit-based talent development are more than just a reflection of MAPFRE’s values of integrity, commitment and vocation for service. They also bring us a competitive advantage as a company because of the positive impact on our capacity to innovate, to offer a better service and to adapt to the different environments in which we operate. This ultimately enriches the value proposition to clients, employees and society at large on a global scale.

Our commitment is reflected in, among others, our adherence to the United Nations Standards of Conduct for Business regarding the LGBTQ community, which began in 2020 and, more recently, our membership of REDI (Red Empresarial por la Diversidad y la Inclusión LGBTI — the Spanish business network for LGBTQ diversity and inclusion), in Spain.

REDI is a business initiative aimed at supporting diversity and promoting the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer or questioning people and those of other orientations. (LGBTQ+), through awareness raising, training and advice to companies. Through various initiatives, REDI aims to contribute to social normalization and to the elimination of sociocultural prejudices and biases with respect to this community, and to facilitate their integration into the workplace.

With these commitments, our Group continues to make progress in contributing to the tenth Sustainable Development Goal (enlace objetivo), actively committing to reducing inequalities. At MAPFRE, we believe that only in an environment where diversity is respected and every individual matters can people be the best version of themselves and contribute to the success of the company.

First-hand experience: Forced segregation of personal and professional life

At an event with MAPFRE employees, Óscar Muñoz, co-founder of REDI, shared his story as an LGBTQ person: “I am a gay man and, for many years, I thought that what I did in my life outside of work was not of interest to anyone.” However, his concern for the rights of LGBTQ people began when he realized that he was giving up many opportunities to enjoy a better relationship with his peers, at the expense of his professional development: “I didn’t go to company dinners, I missed out on a lot in an effort to avoid talking about my personal life.”

The reality is that LGBTQ people, as Óscar himself explained, can find it difficult to be themselves in the workplace. They can even be excluded from something as common as asking colleagues about their weekend or about their families at the start of a meeting. The truth is that our culture remains full of stereotypes and prejudices that prevent LGBTQ people’s lives being seen as normal. Spain is relatively advanced in this respect compared to other countries. As shown in the chart below, there are lots of European countries in which a significant percentage of the population doesn’t even think that LGBTQ people deserve the same rights as everyone else.

As with other forms of discrimination (gender, functional diversity, intergenerational), when it comes to LGBTQ rights, it’s easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that sufficient progress has already been made. However, this is not the case. It’s worth remembering that 69 countries around the world continue to criminalize homosexuality — 9 of them with the death penalty.

The rainbow ceiling

People who are openly gay, trans people or even those whose résumé includes working with LGBTQ organizations may have greater difficulty finding a job. That is why the concept of the “rainbow ceiling” has begun to be used to refer to the barriers that LGBTQ people encounter in their professional development. In another survey of LGBTQ people, 86 percent of respondents said they had heard jokes, rumors or non-inclusive language in their workplace.

Faced with this data, we have to ask ourselves: what can each of us do? First and foremost, we must educate ourselves. We must take steps to understand why active inclusion policies are needed and support initiatives and organizations that stand up for LGBTQ rights.

Óscar Muñoz emphasized the role of managers and leaders, who have a responsibility to ensure that there is an environment of respect within their teams. They must also make a commitment to tackling non-inclusive behaviors, rather than turning a blind eye. And, of course, they should evaluate talent purely on the basis of results, casting aside any stereotypes or prejudices.

From tolerating to celebrating diversity

Managing diversity in all its forms—gender, disability, generational, cultural and LGBTQ—helps to foster an environment where people feel included and promotes equal opportunities, a culture of respect and the development of talent based on merit.

Only in an environment where diversity is respected and every individual matters can people be the best version of themselves.

We believe that diversity is the great engine of growth, innovation, flexibility and adaptability in businesses. It is key to the competitiveness of companies and to the social development of countries. Only by having a diverse and inclusive workforce can we fully connect with society.

At MAPFRE, we are strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs, which help guide our work in responding to major challenges related to equality, diversity, justice, health, education, growth and the planet. Our company is helping to disseminate and publicize the SDGs and to give visibility to MAPFRE’s priority goals, with the understanding that the Group’s indirect contribution to their achievement is much greater due to the relationship between the SDGs.