The inaugural “LGBT Friendly Employer” award was announced at the annual Pride Business Forum conference together with the bePROUD awards. Employers of all sizes and sectors, public and state administration, and non-profit organizations could apply for the award.
The LGBT-Friendly Employer award aims to recognise, motivate, and highlight employers’ efforts to implement measures aimed at the better inclusion of LGBT employees in the Czech Republic. The strategic approach, specific projects, and tools supporting the inclusion of LGBT employees are evaluated. The award also takes into account how this topic is supported by leading company management and how the company communicates it internally to employees and externally to the public.
Twelve companies were considered for the award. In addition to awarded companies, the jury was also impressed by the Office of the Public Defender of Rights as the only public administration institution to openly subscribe to the principles of equal workplace access to LGBT persons.
The jury praised Vodafone’s sophisticated strategy and approach to LGBT occupational equality – which is supported by the parent company and adapted to local needs through the hands-on involvement of management and employees.
Vodafone can serve as an example to other companies in terms of employee benefits by giving not only LGBT couples equal benefits (e.g. same entitlement to time off as married couples for weddings, medical emergencies, and funerals) but also rainbow families (10 days off for same-sex couples following a birth or adoption).
The company actively communicates LGBT inclusion among employees, by – for example – organizing an employee monetary collection for the sbarvouven.cz counselling centre (the amount raised is then multiplied by the Vodafone Foundation). One hundred employees, including management, took part in the Prague Pride march last year. The company also communicates the issue with some meeting rooms decked out in LGBT colours, and Vodafone also considers transgender people and has introduced gender-neutral toilets.
“Openness and zero-tolerance towards any form of discrimination have always been an integral part of Vodafone’s corporate culture. The LGBT issue was included in the Diversity Strategy in 2015 alongside Vodafone’s equal benefits policy, which enshrines LGBT couples’ equal right to time off as married couples in areas where legislation has left the LGBT community out in the cold. Same-sex couples at Vodafone are also of course entitled to ten days off following a birth or adoption. “Vodafone’s employee collection also annually supports the sbarvouven.cz online consultancy, and we regularly communicate LGBT topics through insightful presentations. Employees appreciate the active involvement of top management as well as specific activities such as Vodafone’s involvement in the Stejná rodina and Jsme fér campaigns, as well as the Prague Pride parade,” observes Jana Vychroňová, HR Manager, Vodafone.
The jury praised ExxonMobil BSC Czechia employees’ LGBT-related activities. As part of the Pride Chapter group, employees – with the company’s support – organize presentations (e.g. LGBT families, marriage for all, prejudice, HIV/AIDS prevention), participate in LGBT-themed events and campaigns (IDAHOT, Prague Pride parade, Celebrating Love of All Kinds campaign). The jury especially appreciated that all employees, regardless of sexual orientation, are involved in the group and activities.
The jury praised Accenture for actively involving senior management and supporting activities/projects that promote an LGBT-friendly environment, which is proactively supported by Roberto Libonati (CEO of the Czech branch of Accenture) and Alena Sochorová (Director of Telecommunications) who regularly participate in internal and external activities (such as the Pride Business Forum conference and Pride at Accenture internal group). Most members of the Czech Accenture management have joined ‘LGBT Allies’ (supporters) and also express support for LGBT inclusion by using rainbow stripes on their entry cards.