The Hong Kong LGBT Climate Study 2011-12, sponsored by Barclays, was launched on 17 May 2012.
We are delighted to present this Hong Kong LGBT Climate Study 2011-2012 sponsored by Barclays. It is the first study of its kind, initiated by a non-government organisation and focusing on the subject of sexual orientation and gender identity as it relates to the business sector. It looks at both the general attitudes of the working population towards the subject of LGBT, as well as the experiences and perspectives of Hong Kong LGBT employees themselves. As such it provides a picture of the current climate in Hong Kong for LGBT individuals, both in the wider community and in the workplace and points to some of the challenges and opportunities that exist for employers.
Establishing the business case for inclusive workplaces in Asia
There is a growing body of research, in Asia and internationally, that demonstrates the business case for embracing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. However this is possibly the first ever research for Hong Kong that so clearly demonstrates the business imperative for addressing the needs of LGBT employees. The findings show that the majority of LGBT individuals in Hong Kong are leading dual lives, concealing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity from family and colleagues. They show too that there is widespread discrimination – both in the community at large and in Hong Kong’s workplaces. Of particular concern for employers are the findings that workplaces that are not inclusive of LGBT employees are having a negative impact on business performance – directly affecting LGBT employees’ well-being, productivity and levels of engagement.
Key themes emerging from the Study
There are also a number of key findings from this Study that are significant for Hong Kong society as a whole:
The Hong Kong community appears more accepting of LGBT individuals than has often been previously assumed. Whilst there continues to be a level of ambivalence and there is certainly room for greater education and understanding on this subject, the majority of people say they do not have an issue with LGBT individuals and that discriminatory practices towards LGBT employees are never acceptable.
This is an issue that is of interest and concern to Hong Kong’s growing Gen Y population. The demographic trends from this Study highlight that Gen Y employees are both far more accepting of LGBT individuals and concerned by the discrimination they face.
As evidenced by the positive response rate to the LGBT Employee Survey, LGBT individuals are willing to come forward, engage and share their views on this subject.
Time for more open dialogue
We believe these findings point to a changing climate in Hong Kong and that it is time for greater openness and dialogue on this subject – by both the community and the corporate sector. It is no longer appropriate to overlook this topic as being too sensitive or too difficult to address. Taking proactive steps to understand and meet the needs of LGBT individuals, creating a more inclusive and open environment will not only be good for business – it will be good for Hong Kong as a whole.
“We believe these findings point to a changing climate in Hong Kong
and that it is time for greater dialogue on this subject – by both the
community and the corporate sector.”
Companies can take a leadership role
This research has focused on the workplace. However, the business case for addressing the subject of LGBT extends beyond. We must remember that with an estimated 5% to 10% of any population being LGBT lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are not only our employees – they are our customers, investors and other stakeholders too. In failing to understand their perspectives and address their needs, we are ignoring the interests of a significant minority.
Ultimately what is clear from this Study is that there is a need for greater leadership on this subject in Hong Kong. It is our view that companies have a clear opportunity here and that companies who choose to lead, will gain.
We thank our partner and sponsor, Barclays for demonstrating their leadership in this respect and for working with us closely to define the scope and approach of this Study. We thank too The University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme for conducting the surveys – as well as the many LGBT individuals and organisations who both informed our approach and participated in the Study by sharing their views.
To read the full report, click here