On the final panel discussion in Hong Kong, Daniel Franklin, executive editor of The Economist, Simon Baptist, editorial director of The Economist Intelligence Unit Asia-Pacific, and Charles Goddard, chief economist of The Economist Intelligence Unit, spoke candidly about the issues raised throughout the conference on the state of LGBT diversity in Asian business, and what’s next for the future of LGBT rights in the region and the Pride & Prejudice conference.
More is needed from the top
All three experts from The Economist agreed that there is a growing sense that change is likely to happen to improve the lives of LGBT people in Asia, driven by the youth of the country.
Whilst Asia is not at the forefront of LGBT rights globally there is “positive generational change” as Franklin, executive editor of The Economist, described the millennials effect on progressing the issue in the country. However, it was highlighted that the millennials lack of engagement with politics will potentially hold back progress.
There is a real need for leadership from the top of governments and corporates in order to really drive change. Simon Baptist, editorial director of The Economist Intelligence Unit Asia-Pacific discussed that this presents an opportunity of how we engage the youth of Asia to take a stronger interest on politics (and their leaders) in order to further progress the cause of LGBT rights.
Currently, the business community needs to do more to accelerate the change – “currently they are too deafeningly silent” said the executive editor of The Economist. Whilst there has been some very basic progress, this is still sadly a low priority in many companies and needs to be addressed from the top of many businesses argued Charles Baptist, editorial director.
The need for more from the top to drive change is coupled with a challenge that there is a lack of substantiated data on this topic. Franklin explained that there is a real need for data to bring to bear on this issue. “The frustration is that there isn’t much data coming in for both the business case and on the areas where there are issues for the LGBT community” he explained.
The need for more data goes in tandem with the need for more to be done by business leaders. The challenge though is how to obtain this information in a market whereby there is still strong discrimination faced against the LGBT community. The Economist wants to lead the way in these discussions and so the experts spoke about what’s next to initiate and drive these conversations of change.
It was revealed that the idea of the Pride & Prejudice conference initiated out of Asia– which shows the need for conferences such as this in the region. “It is something we write about (in The Economist in Asia), so we thought – why shouldn’t we do an event and make a more pertinent statement on bringing these issues to bear” said Daniel Franklin.
The future of LGBT rights in Asia in the workplace is dictated mainly on the two points of greater leadership needed from the top and more data. This will lead to a more concrete understanding of the business case, which includes: contributing to the search for talent, a marketplace of LGBT people for businesses to tap into and enhanced productivity at work through letting people be themselves.