The coronavirus pandemic may have cancelled the usual parades and marches to mark Pride in June, but it didn’t stop Sanofi from holding its first-ever global Pride event to recognize and celebrate its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) employees, and to hearing stories from colleagues around the world like Kornrawee Putthasook, a transgender woman who works as a Marketing Coodinator in Thailand.
Sanofi also launched SanofiPridePlus, a global colleague resource group that aims to provide community and resources for LGBTQ employees, raise their voices within the company, and educate allies and friends in the cause of LGBTQ equality and inclusion, in the workplace and beyond.
One Face, One Story
The decades-long fight for acceptance and equal rights for the LGBTQ community has undoubtedly come a long way-the US legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, Ireland elected its first LGBTQ Taoiseach in 2017 and more recently the village of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes in France elected a transgender woman as mayor-but you can still go to prison for being gay in 73 countries and nearly half of all LGBTQ employees in the US are not out at work, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
“The creation of a workplace that is not just tolerant but also embraces diversity is becoming increasingly important. We have a much greater role to play and a responsibility in the communities in which we operate not just to create economic value but to promote equality, fair treatment and opportunity for everybody,” said Alan Main, Global Head of Consumer Healthcare and Inclusion & Diversity Sponsor.
“I’ve been out openly at work for 20 years. In the first 10 to 15 there was the sense that it was something to be known but not to be discussed and certainly not something to be celebrated. The world has made incredible progress over the past few years. But we still face significant challenges today.”
Fabrice Houdart, of Out Leadership and the former United Nations LGBTI Standards Secretary, joined Sanofi’s webcast to share how the consequences of being treated as “an inferior species” in his childhood had a negative impact on his early career. “I was very nervous to speak in meetings. Compared to the straight man in the room, I was less worthy of speaking and that was a huge impediment. That burden of shame only left me when I started being more vocal about who I was and prouder of my identity,” he said.
Houdart helped to create the United Nations LGBT Standards of Conduct for Business, which Sanofi endorsed in 2019. The standards require companies to respect LGBT human rights, eliminate discrimination and support employees, and it is on the latter that Houdart places the most importance. “It’s not enough to have the right policies in place, you have to constantly reiterate the message to LGBT people that they are welcome in the workplace. Celebrating like this today is the type of message that LGBT people need to hear to be successful.”
Supporting the UN LGBTI Standards of Conduct for Business
"If we are to achieve faster global progress towards equality for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and intersex people, businesses will not only have to meet their human rights responsibilities, they must become active agents of change."
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights