The UN’s Fabrice Houdart talks with OPEN Finance about the Standards of Conduct for Business

To mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, we sat down at Barclays with Fabrice Houdart, Human Rights Officer at the United Nations, to talk about the UN’s Standards of Conduct for Business.

The Standards were a hot topic at this year’s OPEN Finance Forum, and at our recent Roundtable – our member firms expressed great interest in what their firms can do to continue moving the needle in favor or greater equality for LGBT+ individuals across the world.

Watch our video interview here, and read below for highlights of the conversation and to learn how your company can show its support.

What are the Standards?
The United Nations Human Rights Office has developed five Standards of Conduct for Business to support the business community in tackling discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people. The Standards, produced in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Business, build on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and reflect the input of hundreds of companies across diverse sectors:

  • Respect the human rights of LGBT people
  • Eliminate discrimination from the workplace
  • Provide an affirmative workplace for LGBT employees
  • Work with business partners to prevent discrimination in their own organizations
  • Advocate for LGBT rights in the public sphere

You can read more about each of the Standards in the UN’s report.

Why do we need the Standards of Conduct?
Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people cannot be ended by governments alone. Businesses can foster diversity and promote a culture of respect and equality both in the workplace and in the communities where they and their business partners operate. Companies all over the world – big and small, local and multinational – can move the dial in the direction of greater equality for LGBTI people by supporting the UN’s 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, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

What does supporting the Standards mean?
Supporting the Standards means allowing the United Nations to say that they have your company’s backing for this initiative. Supporting the Standards doesn’t require companies to do anything other than understand and follow the guidance which they provide.
While the Standards represent practices which OPEN Finance member firms already have in place, visible support for the Standards sends a powerful signal to other companies around the world, the great majority of which do not yet understand that LGBT issues are important to business.

Which OPEN Finance firms currently support the Standards?
OPEN Finance firms already supporting the Standards include: Accenture, Amalgamated Bank, Barclays, Bloomberg L.P., BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, EY, KPMG, Marsh & McLennan, New York Life, PwC, RBS, Thomson Reuters.

How does my company sign up to show its support? Who can we contact for more information?
Showing your support is easy – all it takes is one email to Fabrice at the UN. Finding out more information – either from the UN or from OPEN Finance – is similarly easy.
To sign up or find out more, simply use the Contact Us form on our website, and a member of the OPEN Finance leadership team will be in touch.

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