The importance of recognition
Written by Philip Howell-Williams on May 24, 2016.
On May 17th, a date deliberately chosen to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia and Intersexphobia (IDAHOTI), 200 of Hong Kong’s business leaders attended the second annual Community Business LGBTI Inclusion Awards in Hong Kong.
The award ceremony is the continuation of a process launched by Community Business in 2014 to recognise businesses and individuals who promote LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong. There were concerns at launch about how many companies would engage with the process but were delighted when over 40 firms initially applied to be part of the event. The success of the first awards prompted the decision to make it a biennial occasion. The two year gap was chosen in order to give companies sufficient time to learn, grow and expand on their LGBTI inclusion.
This year over 100 companies applied for awards in an expanded range of 11 major categories, both individual and corporate. As part of the rigorous assessment process applications were evaluated by a panel of judges based on four main criteria: strategic, proactive, impactful and sustainable. Categories include the LGBT Network Awards, recognising an employee network that has played a proactive role in promoting strong engagement with and commitment to local Hong Kong LGBT employees, and the LGBT Executive Sponsor Award, recognising a senior executive sponsor based in Hong Hong who has used his or her influence to promote LGBT inclusion internally and/or externally.
The awards play an important role in the fight against discrimination which is still widespread in Hong Kong. Positive media attention is one huge benefit of this pioneering initiative but the aim is also to share best practice and cohesion between industry, institutions and individuals and provide companies in Hong Kong with a credible and robust tool to assess, progress and promote their efforts towards LGBT inclusion.
The finalists and winners of each category are able to use the accolade to promote their companies and services both internally and externally. With more and more companies starting up their own internal diversity and inclusion departments, a benchmark is a useful tool to encourage their peers to do the same, to ensure that these departments can add true value to the companies and to attract the best talent by being a desirable company to work for. In the long term the initiative will help to promote Hong Kong as a destination which attracts talented LGBTI people and encourage equality advancements within the country.
On a personal note, I was pleased to see the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) category added this year. As 50% of the private working sector is based in SMEs, it is vital to continue engagement with them to help Hong Kong progress on its journey towards inclusion. I was also thrilled to see so many people engaging with the awards ceremony and supporting each other in their success. When different industry sectors come together for events such as this it really does make a difference, not just on the business front but also as a networking opportunity and a chance to take on board the best practice of other companies. Huge congratulations to all the winners and here’s to the next one.