The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Royal Dutch Shell organized “OUT in the Global Economy,” a seminar on opportunities for global LGBTI business developments on November 17 at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

The event was part of the chamber’s Global LGBTI Business Week, November 15-18, that focused on LGBTI inclusion as economic development priority.

“OUT in the Global Economy” featured two high-level panel discussions with representatives from the public and private sector, including ING, American Airlines, AkzoNobel, and IBM.

Topics included the inclusion of LGBTI’s within organizations, how to confront countries where being part of the LGBTI-community is not widely accepted, and why diversity is critical in the international trade. Panelists also discussed how to bring the discussion to the workplace and what methods were used to include the LGBTI community in the organizations.

Making progress

“Ten years ago, companies put a rainbow on a bottle to show that they were LGBT-friendly,” said Jonathan Lovitz, the chamber’s senior vice president. “That worked 10 years ago, but not today. Companies must be seen with people who are out.”

He stressed that inclusion of and supporting the LGBTI community has been growing in importance recently. “We have come far,” Lovitz said. “However, people can get married in 50 states, but get fired in 32 of them because they put their partner’s photo on their desk.”

The participants on both panels mostly agreed on inclusion and how corporations and NGOs can support inclusion: work together, talk about it, and call out lack of inclusion.

The panelists also spoke about the critical issue of diversity in companies and markets that are easier to reach because of this diversity, and that large companies and public services have a huge impact on the acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTI community.

The Netherlands is your safety pin

Joanneke Balfoort, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, expressed the importance of inclusion of the LGBTI-community in the global markets and what role the Netherlands plays for the LGBTI-community.

“You can see us as your safety pin,” she said. “The Netherlands stands ready to continue cooperation with the United States towards supporting the LGBTI-community.”

The Netherlands has long supported LGBTI rights. In 2001, the first same-sex marriage in the world was in the Netherlands. David Pollard, Executive Director at Workplace Pride, supported the influence of the Dutch to inclusion of the LGBTI community: “The Netherlands is a great example for other countries when it comes to the LGBTI-inclusion,” he said.

The chamber’s Global LGBTI Business Week also highlighted international supplier diversity and business creation opportunities, while illustrating the role of business in ensuring equity for LGBTI citizens around the world. The seminar was organized in cooperation with the Embassy’s Holland on the Hill corporate partners.

The Holland on the Hill initiative is a joint effort of the US Congressional Caucus on the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, corporate partners, and the Netherland-America Foundation to highlight the shared values between the Netherlands and the United States.

Panel Discussion 1

Panel Discussion 2