Why we signed the UN’s LGBTI Standards and how we bring our LGBT+ support to life
Last week, our Chief Executive, Philip Jansen, committed BT to the UN’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and intersex people (LGBTI) Standards of Conduct for Businesses, and we joined the UN’s global campaign to tackle homophobia and transphobia. BT’s support of the LGBT+ community has always been strong, but over the past year, we’ve intensified our efforts to address LGBT+ discrimination and support our people wherever they are.
The standards build on the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and capture five key promises:
Respect human rights - Businesses should develop policies, exercise due diligence, and remediate adverse impacts to ensure they respect the human rights of LGBTI people.
Eliminate discrimination - Businesses should ensure that there is no discrimination in their recruitment, employment, working conditions, benefits, respect for privacy, or treatment of harassment.
Support LGBTI staff - Businesses should provide a positive, affirmative environment so that LGBTI employees can work with dignity and without stigma. In the Marketplace
Do not discriminate - Businesses should not discriminate against LGBTI suppliers, distributors or customers, and should use their leverage to prevent discrimination and related abuses by their business partners.
Act in the public sphere and stand up for human rights.
The commitment letter BT sent to the UN included a personal note from Philip, which said, “we are committing to the standards as they endorse a fundamental human right – which is to be free from discrimination. BT has a long history of supporting diversity, and we are alive to the different forms of inequality in the world today.”
“We believe that the UN standards will help BT and other organisations across the world stand against discrimination through the behaviours they encourage.”
Dan Bross, Executive Director of the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality, said “BT’s statement of leadership helps further progress this movement globally and serves as an example to others in the business community. With rising tensions across the world, businesses can play an important role in furthering the cause of LGBTI equality.”
Our commitment to the UN LGBTI Standards is one of a series of actions we’ve taken to tackle this critical global issue. In November 2019, BT joined an industry movement called Trans in The City and signed the Trans Charter, which promises to support transgender people in the workplace and drive acceptance, awareness and advocacy for the community. In January 2020, we also introduced new best-in-class Transition Guidelines and Transition Plans to support our people during gender transition; which includes non-binary.
Moira Thompson Oliver, BT’s Human Rights lead, said “we recognise the role that companies can play in promoting respect for human rights and the UN Guiding Principles in our efforts to do so. The UN LGBTI standards offer welcome additional guidance to companies on how to meet their responsibility to respect the rights of LGBTI people, who sadly continue to face a higher risk of discrimination today in the workplace and beyond.”
“We look forward to aligning and sharing best practice with other companies and leveraging the power of collective action to curb discrimination and promote diversity for our LGBTI communities.”