BY NICOLAS LEVY, WASHINGTON BLADE
SANTIAGO, CHILE – The Human Rights Campaign and a Chilean LGBT advocacy group plan to launch a version of the Corporate Equality Index.
HRC Global Director Ty Cobb and Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program, were among those who met with human resource and diversity managers while in Chile during the week of Aug. 8.
The meetings place as part of a joint project between HRC and Fundacion Iguales to explore the implementation of an LGBT business index in Chile that is similar to the Corporate Equality Index in the U.S. and Equidad MX in Mexico. The goal is to evaluate the efforts of Chile-based companies in the management of sexual diversity and its inclusion and nondiscrimination policies that apply to their employees and customers.
The Chilean index will be the first in South America.
The idea emerged from Pride Connection Chile, a network of 26 companies that has been working on diversity with Fundacion Iguales since 2016.
“We want to have an index that not only measure companies in our net, but also many others in Chilean market,” Fundacion Iguales Executive Director Emilio Maldonado told the Washington Blade. “The model we reviewed was HRC’s, so we got in touch to know their availability to build the index outside United States.”
The visit of HRC’s representatives was the first step in the project.
The importance of getting objective information on what the companies are doing in this area is crucial not only for corporate social responsibility issues, but also for business.
“There is a saying in business that ‘what gets measured, get managed businesses thrive on competition and look for trusted data-driven benchmarks,'” said Fidas.
According to Fidas, that is why the Corporate Equality Index has been so successful over the years.
“In 2002 when we started the CEI, just 13 businesses earned a 100 percent score — today 515 earn a top rating,” she pointed out. “Measuring progress drives results. And the transparency of an index allows for a level of accountability and incentive for change that other efforts do not.”
Maldonado added the criteria and ways of application of this index are part of the 2018 work, including research of main challenges and training programs on sexual diversity management in order to match conditions among companies that will be evaluated.
“We are working to apply the index in 2019,” Maldonado said.
Pride Connection Chile
Cobb and Fidas on Aug. 9 also spoke at the Pride Connection Chile breakfast, the network’s annual event that brings together businesses and local LGBT leaders to work and learn about how sexual diversity can be successfully managed within Chilean corporations.
In its first year, Pride Connection Chile almost tripled the number of participating companies, both local and multinational. Walmart, IBM and Bloomberg are among the companies that are expected to take part.
“Companies know that they have to talk about sexual diversity within their organizations, but they do not how,” said Maldonado. “When they find a network such as Pride Connection, the interest of participating grows quickly.”
He explained the companies in the network have different experiences in managing diversity, ranging from complete policies or targeted efforts. But they have common problems.
“There is a pending challenge to involve shareholders in these processes, specially because they are more conservatives and reluctant to discuss about LGBT matters,” added Maldonado. “We have to cast out the biases of this groups and work together towards diversity acceptation.”
That is what HRC representatives found during the visit of many of the companies that plan to take part in Pride Connection Chile.
“Businesses here in Chile, both U.S.-based multinationals and some leading Chilean companies have taken concrete steps such as LGBT nondiscrimination protections and implementing gender transition guidelines, to foster more equitable, welcoming workplaces,” said Fidas. “In addition, these businesses are having more internal conversations about how LGBT inclusion is part of their business culture and contributes to the success of the business.”
She emphasized conservative visions are not incompatible with inclusion, given diversity represents a greater challenge for business.
“LGBT people are part of the fabric of Chilean society and exist — not always openly — across all workplaces,” said Fidas. “The question before businesses here is do they want to attract and retain the most talented workers, including those who are LGBT and foster work environments where they can thrive and contribute greatly to the success of the company.”