Ropes & Gray recently launched a first-of-its-kind report on LGBT+ self-identification, a practice that enables companies to invite LGBT+ employees to disclose sexual orientation and gender identity data. Titled “Visibility Counts: Corporate Guidelines for LGBT+ Self-ID,” the report is a distillation of research conducted by Ropes & Gray and Out Leadership that examines the benefits, best practices and challenges of implementing an LGBT+ self-ID program. Out Leadership is a strategic advisory firm that connects leaders across the world’s most influential industries to drive LGBT+ equality forward.
To gather the data for the report, Ropes & Gray and Out Leadership surveyed executives, including HR and diversity professionals, at 38 organizations representing a range of industries, including law, banking, technology, consulting, asset management, private equity, media and retail. The results of the survey revealed promise for LGBT+ self-ID programs. Of the 38 organizations surveyed, 22 already allow for self-ID and 11 have plans to do so.
The report offers a roadmap for businesses interested in pursuing an LGBT+ self-ID program, detailing best practices, such as engaging key stakeholders, coordinating internal communications, collecting and analyzing data, and sharing positive outcomes to build engagement and trust. It also offers guidelines on how to overcome critical implementation challenges, such as data privacy and employment laws and regulations, employee nonparticipation, and lack of global standards for sexual orientation and gender identity categories.
The firm introduced the report during Out Leadership’s 2019 U.S. Senior Leader Summit, co-hosted and sponsored for the second year in a row by Ropes & Gray. Business leaders representing a variety of sectors, including banking, law, insurance, and technology, among others, attended the event to share insights on LGBT+ inclusion and advancement in the workplace.
Ropes & Gray’s partnership with Out Leadership dates back to 2014, when the firm signed on as a founding sponsor of Out in Law, the first LGBT+ senior leadership initiative for the legal profession. In addition to its work on Visibility Counts, Ropes & Gray served as global pro bono legal partner on Out Leadership’s CEO Business Briefs, which provide organizations with comprehensive overviews of policies and regulations in locations where they do business. Ropes & Gray provided the legal and regulatory reviews for 28 country briefs, as well as all 50 U.S. state briefs. The U.S. briefs are being released in conjunction with Out Leadership’s United States LGBT+ Business Climate Index, a leading-edge system ranking all 50 U.S. states based on 20 independent indicators of the economic, legislative and cultural frameworks affecting the LGBT+ people living and working there.
Ropes & Gray has a longstanding commitment to ensuring that its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lawyers feel welcome in the workplace. Since 2009, Ropes & Gray has earned the top rating of 100 percent in the Corporate Equality Index, an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The firm also has an active diversity committee, which addresses policy issues, and an LGBTQ Forum that provides ongoing support to LGBT+ lawyers and helps identify and coordinate firm-sponsored LGBT+ pro bono matters.
Ropes & Gray’s pro bono work includes fighting for the rights of LGBTQ asylum seekers; helping secure health care and other rights for gay and transgender people; and forming effective pro bono partnerships with organizations such as Lambda Legal, GLAD and the Human Rights Campaign. In 2015, Ropes & Gray partner Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, along with Mary Bonauto of GLAD, successfully argued the pivotal marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges before the Supreme Court. Since then, Mr. Hallward-Driemeier and his team have continued to work with others to defend the rights of LGBTQ persons, including in states that have attempted to limit the rights that the Supreme Court recognized in Obergefell.
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