This week is Pride Week, the annual celebration of human rights and equality. It is great that we have a common moment to celebrate rainbow families and LGBTQ+ people together, because too often these topics still remain silenced. Of course, human rights and equality play an important role during every week of the year. They are not a matter of opinion; these rights belong to each of us. At Paulig, we feel that it is important to talk about these issues in public so that we can promote equality and human rights even a little and create a space to be visible. We also want to encourage other companies to discuss these things openly.
It is important that work for gender equality and human rights is done not only by individuals but also by organisations. These topics are so meaningful that the responsibility for the realisation of respecting these rights cannot lie solely with individuals. The European Commission has launched the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025, which presents policy objectives and actions to make significant progress towards a gender-equal Europe by 2025. The goal is a Europe where women and men, girls and boys, in all their diversity, are free to pursue their chosen path in life, have equal opportunities to thrive, and can equally participate in and lead our European society.
I find it really important that international institutions such as the European Commission work purposefully to achieve gender equality. Although countries where LGBTQ+ people are prohibited by law are outside Europe, there is still inequality in many European countries. According to the European Commission the social acceptance of LGTBIQ had gone down in 9 countries in Europe.
According to this strategy, we have already achieved improvements in equality within EU member countries, for example, the overall social acceptance rate has increased from 71 per cent in 2015 to 76 per cent in 2019. Much remains to be done to promote these topics, but I believe that long-term cooperation, to which the countries and societies are committed, can lead to further significant improvements at a broader level.
LGBTQ+ discrimination in employment is a matter of concern in Europe. As many as 19 per cent of homosexuals and bisexuals experience discrimination in employment. Among transgender people, the corresponding figure is as high as 35 per cent. The figures are worrying and show how much we still have to improve in Europe. At work people should be placed in an equal position, regardless of sexual identity or orientation. By presenting diverse and accepting fronts companies can encourage employees to be themselves. I feel that such matters have a big impact on applicants who belong to minority groups.
When it comes to working life, psychological safety is something that cannot be over-emphasised. Regardless of sexual identity or orientation, everyone has the same rights in employment. All of us should feel safe at work. A lot of discrimination still happens in employment, and some are afraid of being their true selves. The challenge is that a lot of discrimination is invisible, and individuals suffer from it alone. I would say that the challenge is that companies and their management should take the responsibility of creating safety and acceptance culture – not individuals. The general language and communication of companies significantly influences how employees perceive the atmosphere of the organisation. However, a lot of courage is often required of individuals, if the level of general language and communication is not inclusive and good enough.
Each of us is different, which is a wonderful thing. No one should have to hide their differences – neither at work nor anywhere else and differences should be seen as empowering and enriching. We all should keep in our mind that equality does not take anything away from anyone, but rather gives to each of us and empowers people to their greatest potential.
This week, however, I would like to celebrate equality and human rights and how much we can work together for these. Things can be changed if we want to change them. We all can support each other.
Read more about gender equality and human rights:
- European Commission: #UnionOfEquality, LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025.
- European Commission: Special Eurobarometer 493: Discrimination in the European Union.