The EBRD is on the path to ever-greater diversity and seeks an increasingly inclusive work environment. EBRD staff members come from a diverse set of countries, with different ethnic origins, languages and cultures, as well as a diversity of age, gender and sexual orientation.
With this as background, the EBRD Spectrum* network organised a panel discussion on diversity, inclusion and LGBT issues. The Bank has made some efforts to ensure that staff members who identify as LBGT are provided with a non-discriminatory work environment. Nonetheless, they believe that the link between inclusion and LGBT issues has not been properly explored. While official messages and HR policies are anti-discriminatory, the reality on the ground is often different.
A recent survey confirmed that discriminatory behaviour and homophobic banter are still commonplace. In particular, in a number of countries where the EBRD is active and has staff working on the ground, homos*xuality is at best a social taboo, at worst illegal. LGBT staff members are often unclear about the Bank’s policy on diversity and, as a consequence, still uncomfortable about the way their identity will affect their career prospects.
In short, the EBRD is still not a completely safe and open place for them to be themselves. It is this last issue that EBRD wants to focus on and explore: How can the EBRD make greater efforts to provide an environment where everyone, regardless of who they are, feel free to be themselves - and why should it do so?
The EBRD held a discussion panel of senior leaders from different backgrounds and contexts. They explained why, in their experience, giving people the choice and opportunity to be more honest and open in the workplace can be transformational for an organization. They also shared their experience on how the organizations and people they have led have embraced this more open atmosphere, and what challenges they faced.
The discussion was opened by Suma Chakrabarti, EBRD President, with a panel including António Simões, CEO, HSBC UK; Betsy Nelson, Vice President, EBRD; Maxim Eristavi, journalist and activist, Ukraine; and Dame Linda Dobbs, High Court Judge, UK; and was moderated by Mattia Romani, Managing Director, EBRD.
*EBRD Spectrum is the Bank's LGBT network. The network exists to raise the visibility of LGBT staff at the Bank so that employees who are lesbian, gay, bis*xual or transs*xual feel more comfortable about being open about their s*xuality in the workplace. Spectrum promotes peer support among LGBT staff at the Bank, raises awareness of LGBT issues among employees and management and actively contributes to the Bank’s diversity agenda. It is also Spectrum responsibility to raise issues concerning the LGBT community to senior management to ensure that the Bank remains an exceptional employer for LGBT staff.
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