Many companies in Asia are falling short in fostering an LGBTQ+-friendly environment through inclusion & diversity (I&D) initiatives, a study by AXA Asia revealed.
The study, which was released in commemoration of Pride Month in June, found that progress in advancing LGBTQ+ welfare in the workplace has been uneven across the region. Through an online questionnaire, AXA surveyed select groups of self-identifying LGBTQ+ members in Hong Kong and the Philippines. The opinions of five leading LGBTQ+ influencers in Japan and Thailand were also incorporated in the survey.
In Hong Kong, companies were perceived to be performing more poorly on LGBTQ+ education in comparison to other I&D pillars such as gender parity or racism. Generally, international companies in both Hong Kong and the Philippines were more likely to be seen as performing better (55% agree) compared to domestic companies (36% agree) in terms of LGBTQ+ education.
In Japan, corporations have become increasingly open in supporting LGBTQ+ causes, but those in Thailand were less active, especially in traditional sectors such as law enforcement, as well as education.
In the Philippines and Hong Kong, 70% of respondents believe proper I&D education in the workplace is important, while nearly half of respondents indicated they’d be less willing to stay in a company that lacks proper education on I&D.
The study also found that many LGBTQ+ individuals are hesitant to be fully “out” in the workplace. While 61% of respondents in the Philippines made their sexual orientation public at work, only 16% did so in Hong Kong. In fact, almost a fifth of Hong Kong respondents said that no one in their workplace knew of their sexual orientation.
In Hong Kong, 31% of respondents viewed being identified as LGBTQ+ as a potential hindrance to their career. Meanwhile, 64% of respondents in the Philippines believe that being “out” was positive in terms of their performance, while 63% said that it was beneficial to relationships with colleagues.
According to AXA, there is a silver lining in that COVID-19 has not reversed social progress on LGBTQ+ acceptance in the workplace, and that activities to raise awareness continue through online channels.
“Despite competing priorities amid the pandemic, continued awareness of the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and efforts to enact progress in wider inclusion and diversity efforts remain vital, and the workplace is no exception,” said Gordon Watson, CEO of AXA Asia. “Companies in Asia seeking to thrive in a post-pandemic world must enable staff to bring their whole selves to work if they are to attract, nurture and retain the best talent during times of change.”