On March 17, 2020, Out & Equal hosted A special conversation with Out & Equal CEO Erin Uritus and the Out & Equal Global Team. In light of the postponement of the 2020 Out & Equal LGBTQI+ Brazil Forum, we hosted this exclusive Brazil Town Hall was open to registered participants and anyone else interested in joining the conversation around workplace inclusion in Brazil. In case you missed it, you can view the full webinar here.

Below are some of the questions that participants asked that we did not have time to address during out live webinar during the webinar. If you are interested in discussing these responses further with the panelists, please email Out & Equal’s Global Initiatives team at  brazilforum@outandequal.org.

1. I’m interested to hear more about virtual global LGBTQ community. Is there an O&E platform, Facebook group, somewhere where we can all connect, exchange ideas, ask for support? [Combination of multiple similar questions.]

Yes! You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In the coming weeks, we will launch a new robust webinar schedule that will ensure continual meaningful engagements on a broad range of workplace inclusion topics. These webinars will bring in guest speakers and subject matter experts, and some will be less formal “community calls” which will offer the opportunity for everyone to connect virtually to learn from and support one another. Lastly, this summer we are launching our Global Hub, a one-stop resource portal, online community and practice-sharing platform for our partners. Stay tuned for more information!

2. What are the best ways to be a good ally and create a compassionate environment where employees feel comfortable communicating their experiences without fear of retribution? [Combination of multiple similar questions.]

Allies are a fundamental part of ensuring a welcoming environment for LGBTQ people in the workplace. Out & Equal developed these Ally Guiding Behaviors as a tool for those interested in becoming better allies to their LGBTQ colleagues.

Good communication within a company depends on several factors. In terms of healthy communication around diversity and inclusion in the workplace, this should be happening across all levels of the company. It can start by simply defining goals and expectations. Depending on where the company is along their D&I journey, it’s important to set clear, achievable goals for teams and individuals. It’s also important to deliver these messages across the organization, being careful not to only engage departments like HR and D&I in conversations around the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Another key factor to enhance the delivery of your message is to start at the appropriate level. Does your company need more of an introductory conversation around LGBTQ workplace issues?

Last but not least, communication is always a two-way street. Set boundaries, expectations, and provide dedicated time and safe spaces for communication and listening. Someone to act as a moderator can ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and can help foster environments of respect and empathy. All of these pieces will ultimately allow employees to openly voice their needs, be heard, and take steps toward greater inclusion!

3. Is there any company we can always follow as example?

No one company has all the answers but there are many examples of LGBTQ+ inclusion leaders. Most global LGBTQ+ inclusion indices measure nondiscrimination policies with clear sexual orientation and gender identity protections, LGBTQ inclusive benefits, and a company culture that is welcoming of LGBTQ people. In Brazil, these 32 major businesses affirmed their support publicly for LGBTQ+ equality and dignity. Out & Equal has also developed 20 Steps to an Out & Equal Workplace, which might be a useful way to consider different ways that your company can be more inclusive to LGBTQ employees.

4. How can we justify to executives that LGBTQ actions don’t impact economic results?

Some will try to argue that LGBTQ inclusion negatively impacts business; however, that could not be further from the truth. Organizations such as Open for Business have done extensive research on the economic and business case for LGBTQ inclusion, mostly notably, the impact that LGBTQ discrimination can have on a country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Out & Equal’s annual fact sheets also highlights the ways in which LGBTQ discrimination impacts the workplace and consumer behavior.

5. First of all, I would like to congratulate all the amazing work Erin and her team has been doing to support LGBTQ communities and to foster inclusion in the corporate world. My question has to do with coronavirus impact on our community, especially on those who already have health problems due to HIV. Will O&E release any guidelines to corporations to provide access to home offices for LGBTQ employees, without having to expose their health condition? Although many corporations, especially multinationals, are offering this option to their employees, many Brazilian corporations have prejudice with this kind of way of work.

This is a really important question. We know that the current situation does have unique and direct effects on the LGBTQ community. O&E is currently working on putting out a resource for LGBTQ folks who are working from home right now. These guidelines will also address how companies can proceed in a way that supports all employees who are limited to remote work, and those who may have specific health concerns, both mental and physical.

6. Do you have personal stories recorded in short videos?

Great question! We don’t have short personal stories of ourselves recorded, but that’s something we can think about in the future! In the meantime, you can check out some other similar resources we have! For example, we have just started a “POC Perspectives” Blog Series (People of Color Perspectives). Similarly, we recently released a video titled “Perspectives: Brazil” which highlights a local voice on the issues that LGBTQ people in Brazil face and the role that companies can play. Lastly, you can also check out our YouTube page featuring all of our videos, some of which include short personal stories and anecdotes from many of our partners. If you have a compelling story, let us know at brazilforum@outandequal.org.

7. I just want to let all know that Costa Rica, on May 27th, will legalize marriage equality. How can corporations be involved?

We are working with LGBTQ+ partners in Costa Rica and welcome any support – you can email your interest at brazilforum@outandequal.org. Both multinational and Costa Rican companies have been speaking out in support of marriage equality. In February, a group of 32 companies in Costa Rica signed onto a campaign titled “Sí Acepto”, affirming their support of marriage equality and the importance of LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace. Alongside the efforts of Sí Acepto, Open for Business has released a report on the cost of LGBTQ discrimination in Costa Rica as a result of health inequalities, economic discrimination, and missed wedding/tourism revenue. Amplifying these messages will not only help to celebrate marriage equality in Costa Rica but highlight the business case for LGBTQ equality around the world.