LGBT Friendly Employer 2018

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. 

Photos from the conference, including award ceremony.

The main LGBT Friendly Employer 2018 Champion prize is awarded to the company that has made most progress in promoting an inclusive approach to LGBT people in the workplace, and which serves as an inspiration and role model for other companies.

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. 

Special award “LGBT Friendly Employer 2018 Employee-driven Initiatives” for employee activities as part of groups supported by the employer.

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.

Special award “LGBT Employer 2018 Leadership Commitment” for top company management actively involved and supporting activities/projects that promote an LGBT-friendly environment.

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.

LGBT Friendly Employer 2019

The LGBT-Friendly Employer Awards recognize, motivate, and raise the profile of employers whose measures aim for the better inclusion of LGBT employees in the Czech Republic. Strategic approaches as well as specific projects and tools that support LGBT employees’ inclusion are evaluated, including the degree of support from company management and  internal/external communication.

First place: Vodafone

The jury appreciated the company’s overall strategy, special emphasis on the needs of LGBT people in other diversity and HR activities, local implementation of the global strategy, as well as the active involvement of company management and employees. Vodafone can also serve as an example in benefits for LGBT people, as well as internal/external communications. The company is actively and financially involved in supporting non-profit projects for the benefit of gays and lesbians outside the company, such as the S barvou ven counselling centre. Vodaphone also supports activities outside Prague, such as educational lectures and promoting petitions for the Jsme fér campaign. 

Second place: Accenture

The jury praised Accenture for taking a very proactive approach to reconciling benefits and conditions for LGBT colleagues. With the support of employees and management, the company has launched activities and projects to help create a LGBT-friendly environment, which is proactively supported by the CEO of Accenture’s Czech subsidiary as well as other managers. The company supported the sharing of best-practice among employers as part of the Pride Business Forum, and employees can attend Pride at Accenture group events. Most members of Czech Accenture management are officially internally registered as ‘LGBT Allies’, and show support for LGBT inclusion with rainbow stripes on their entry cards.

Third place: ExxonMobil

The company proactively supports employees in a wide-range of situations. The jury also appreciated that – in addition to an employee group – “transgender guidelines” were also introduced last year, specifically designed for those undergoing gender realignment. The company supports all employees with equal benefits, and takes into account LGBT needs. The company’s top management and CEO are actively involved, while with the company’s support employees organize various activities such as the Fun & Run and Bake & Sale whereby charitable proceeds are donated to Domu světla. The company organizes internal campaigns for tolerance for all employees, and issues a newsletter for group members regardless of sexual orientation.

Special prizes

Employee-driven initiatives 2019: ExxonMobil

The jury praised the employees’ LGBT-related activities. As part of the Pride Committee employee group, employees – with the company’s support – organize presentations (on issues such as LGBT families, marriage for all, prejudice), involvement in events, and LGBT-themed campaigns. All employees – regardless of sexual orientation – are involved in the group and activities.

Most-improved 2019: innogy

innogy has long identified issues of diversity and inclusion, supporting all groups under its Diversity Charter. In 2018, the company set about highlighting LGBT-themes by organising discussions for employees in Prague and Brno, launched the all innogy LGBT platform employee group, and offers employees opportunities to participate in activities (e.g. Fun & Run). A key step was also an evaluation and harmonisation of company benefits to reflect LGBT colleagues in the collective agreement. That innogy was one of the first production companies involved in LGBT rights was also taken into account by the jury when evaluating the company’s activities. 

LGBT Workplace Equality Heroes 2019

This is awarded to individuals and management members of companies who actively promote equality for LGBT employees – both in their companies and proactively through other initiatives. 

Of the ten shortlisted, five were awarded:

Martin Hausenblas

Position: co-founder and member of the supervisory board
Company: Adler International

​As an open supporter of LGBT equality, Martin serves as an inspiration for other business people. As an ambassador of diversity and tolerance, his companies encourage involvement in pro-LGBT public initiatives: Liftago partnered the Prague Pride Festival and Adler partnered the Fun and Run Against Homophobia. Last year, he participated in a discussion at the Czech Republic’s EU Representation with Commissioner Věra Jourová regarding prerequisite cooperation between companies and the public sphere.  

Roman Kocián

Position: owner and CEO
Company: Primeros

As a long-term supporter of LGBT equality, Roman’s company supports many non-profit LGBT community-focused initiatives – especially the Czech AIDS Society and Prague Pride. Roman has addressed the Pride Business Forum several times, and last year personally supported the Jsme fér campaign and led his team’s involvement. Roman is an example of a leader who fearlessly leverages the LGBT topic in his company’s marcom.  

Christian Noll

Position: General Manager, GTS
Company: IBM Central and Eastern Europe

​Christian personally initiated, coordinated, and delivered a letter to Prime Minister Babiš in which IBM and other companies supported a proposal to legislate marriage for gay and lesbian couples in the Czech Republic. He also held a press conference in cooperation with Jsme fér and Vodafone to jointly promote this important step in mainstream media. Christian has been actively promoting LGBT rights for years by participating in the Pride Business Forum and related activities. He also supports non-profit organizations in the Czech Republic as a volunteer.

Alena Sochorová

Position: Enterprise Commercial Lead
Company: Microsoft Czech Republic & Slovakia Central and Eastern Europe

Alena is an example of long-term commitment to diversity and LGBT equality at work. Already in her previous tenure at Accenture, as an ally and member of senior management, she worked to promote the issue and involve other managers. She has also brought this commitment to Microsoft, personally committing the company as part of the Pride Business Forum initiative as well as motivating other members of the company’s management. She is a familiar presence – accompanied by colleagues as well as her son – at the Prague Pride parade.

Edita Šilhánová

Position: Legal & Corporate Affairs Director CZ, SK, HU
Company: Pivovary Staropramen

​Edita advocated that Staropramen support the Prague Pride festival, as one of the first companies in the Czech Republic to publicly do so. Flying in the face of numerous shocked and negative reactions from the public and traditional beer drinkers, this support not only continued but also inspired many other companies to sign up. As a regular participant at Pride Business Forum events, Edita’s involvement sets a sterling example among production companies in our country.

The award ceremony took place on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at the residence and in the presence of US Ambassador Stephen B. King.

LGBT Friendly Employer 2020 awards

LGBT Friendly Employer Award acknowledges, motivates and makes visible employers that introduce measures leading to better inclusion of LGBT employees in the Czech Republic. The award assesses the strategic approach to this area, specific projects and tools, as well as the way of supporting the topic by the top management and communicating it both internally and externally.

Champion: IBM

The jury praised IBM’s comprehensive approach to LGBT equality in the workplace, including setting internal rules against discrimination and homophobic / transphobic bullying, a proactive approach to recruiting and retaining LGBT talent, active work by internal employee resource group and strong support for LGBT people in Czech society. In particular, the jury praised the active role that IBM’s management played in the country’s debate on equal marriage in 2019.

Champion: Vodafone

Vodafone has won the award for the third time, which proves their long-term and deep commitment to LGBT equality in the Czech workplace. Vodafone is a true champion in this area and can serve as an example of best practices in the Czech market. Vodafone won for creating the perfect mix of all elements, resulting in a workplace that is inclusive and open to all. The jury especially appreciated the fact that Vodafone does not rest on its laurels, but is constantly trying to improve. In 2019, the company adopted new employee benefits for people in transition and extended parental benefits to all parents, including same-sex parents.

2nd Runner Up: Accenture

Accenture has long been at the forefront of this award and rightly so. The jury praised Accenture’s comprehensive approach to LGBT equality in the workplace. From setting internal regulations to working with employees, the jury highlighted the work with rainbow lanyards for opening up the work environment. The jury appreciated the internal employee resource group’s activities: Accenture traditionally excels in supporting management in this area and in active internal and external communication.

Employee-driven initiatives: ExxonMobil

This is third time that ExxonMobil has received an award in this subcategory, which proves that its LGBT internal employee resource group is one of the best in the Czech market. Its proactive approach to promoting LGBT equality in the workplace is unique, and is a shining example showing that voluntary activities by employees can influence the workplace culture and the behavior of the whole company. The jury was impressed by the Ally Engagement Project, which the group started in 2019 and which attracted the attention of many employees to the group’s activities.

Big Step Forward: ČSOB

ČSOB only recently began to address the topic of LGBT equality in the workplace, but from the very beginning it focused heavily on this area and has taken a huge step forward in such a short time. Its LGBT internal employee resource group was only established in 2019. ČSOB joined the Pride Business Forum and began to change its employee benefits to make them the same for LGBT employees. All this is possible only thanks to the unique cooperation between the LGBT lead, the HR department and the company’s management. Thanks to this synergy, ČSOB has now received the Big Step Forward 2020 award.

Pride Business Forum Heroes 2020 Awards

The Pride Business Forum Heroes is awarded to individuals and highlights the role of members of the top management of organizations/companies who actively fight for equal conditions for LGBT employees in their organizations/companies, or proactively strive for a better position of LGBT persons in society.

Anita Zubak, Executive Director Global IT Operations & Hub Lead, MSD Czech Republic

MSD Czech Republic launched the Czech Chapter of the Rainbow Alliance in September 2018, and Anita has been it‘s strongest and most visible supporter. Anita drove all discussions internally to march in the Pride Parade in 2019, despite the very conservative approach with MSD‘s external brand. In the end, with Anita’s support, over 30 colleagues and their family members marched in the parade, representing MSD and breaking the old perceptions in our region. In addition, MSD raised the rainbow flag on top of it‘s building and hosted internal LGBT events. Anita was part of all of that. Now with Anita’s full support, MSD have signed the Pride Business Forum Memorandum, making MSD CZ full members of the initiative. MSD has Anita’s energy, drive and support to thank for the incredible progress the company has made in such a short time.

Carl Clarke, Director People and Property, Vodafone Czech Republic

Carl is passionate about authentic leadership and inclusive workplaces and is actively involved in the Vodafone LGBT and Supporters Network. Carl has led a four-year global strategy to embed LGBT+ inclusion across Vodafone’s core operations. This included leading on targeted interventions (care, branding, policies, employee networks, supply chain, employee lifecycle, enterprise and customer engagement) and repositioning Vodafone as an externally recognized global employer for LGBT+ inclusion.  Internationally, he has led on changing Vodafone’s global Code of Conduct and international mobility policies; coaching for senior leaders; training for allies and LGBT+ role models, and the formation of a creative two-year partnership with Google and GSK to develop LGBT+ senior leaders. He also spearheaded international research with OutNow on the experience of LGBT+ people when they start work and led Vodafone interventions to address research findings. Since arriving in the Czech Republic, Carl has coached and supported senior leaders outside of Vodafone to progress and ‘get going’ with LGBT+ inclusion. It has also included engaging with Vodafone’s supply chain partners to influence the eco-system that Vodafone operates in. More recently, Carl has sponsored the introduction of trans-inclusive benefits into Vodafone, providing financial support to employees that transition gender at work.

Denise Waddingham, Country Director of The British Council, Czech Republic

After joining us in the Autumn of 2017 as Country Director of the British Council, Czech Republic, Denise very quickly proved herself to be a very valuable ally and active promoter of the LGBT community. Although The British Council already has EDI principles instilled in their core values, we believe Denise goes above and beyond her role of Country Director in not only ensuring all staff are seen, heard, respected, and valued, but that important conversations are started, and that our values are shared with the community and promoted to other workplaces. 

Hélene Goessaert, Member of the board, ČSOB group

ČSOB is the first Czech bank that signed PBF memorandum in 2019, based on Hélene ́s proposal. In the past, in the traditional czech environment, people did not understand why we even discuss LGBT. Hélene was able to overcome that bias and open the topic in the company. She promotes it as natural fulfilment of the basic respect values, that is part of our ČSOB culture. She regularly discuss with ČSOB Proud, and intervenes when needed (e.g. misunderstood internal communication). People know they may approach her, which creates atmosphere of trust.

Michal Nebeský, CEO Citi Czech Republic

Michal Nebeský actively supports LGBT and has long been working to raise awareness about the LGBT community across the corporate world in the Czech Republic. During his time at Citibank, Michal supported the establishment of an internal resource LGBT group in the bank and an active dialogue between employees on this topic. Thanks to his support, Citi has become one of the main partners of peer-to-peer online mentoring site Sbarvouven.cz which offers mentoring for people coming out and also offers support groups for their parents. Thanks to Michal, Citibank publicly supported the bill on same-sex marriage and also became one of the signatories of the Pride Business Forum Memorandum on the Promotion of LGBT Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace in 2019.