Cultural celebration — how can you turn an equality policy into a business benefit, to gain and retain the best international talent?

Global organisations continue to make positive progress in offering equality of opportunity to LGBTQ+ staff and new hires. But we’re noticing a shift from protecting rights to promoting a culture of celebration—and the bottom-line business benefits that it can bring.

In this edition of Reloverse, we examine how forward-thinking companies are dialling up their achievements, fostering a culture that doesn’t just accept diversity, but cherishes it.

Competitive edge

Effective equality policies are a bedrock of inclusivity. But can they extend beyond preventing discrimination to become proactive tools, promoting the visibility and achievements of LGBTQ+ talent? There’s increasing evidence that amplifying their voices and unique insights can reap real rewards. Creating a supportive, inclusive environment for people to work, live and thrive gives global firms the edge when recruiting and retaining the best of the best—which we’re witnessing from our customers and clients.

Respectful and representative

Multinational financial services group Societe Generale employs 117,000 people from 154 nationalities—across 66 countries. They recognise employee diversity needs to reflect global societies and their 25 million customers worldwide. They see the mixing of cultures, personalities and viewpoints as their greatest strength—empowering those who want to move the world forward.

Like many of its peers, the organisation implements the UN’s guiding principles for tackling discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in their business and professional lives. It’s important to remember in France, discrimination is a criminal offence. In Asia, the UK and the US, they win awards and top-place rankings in surveys and indexes. But with such a global footprint, they go the extra mile in every corner of the world.

International initiatives

Through a raft of global-to-local initiatives, Societe Generale promotes inclusion and equal rights. This includes Pride & Allies, a programme that brings staff together from different locations, driving engagement and involvement.

It’s co-building a future beyond simply coexisting—and so far, it’s been highly effective across Brazil, France, Hong Kong, India, Japan, North America, Romania, Singapore, Taiwan and the UK.

From interviews to internal promotion and international assignments, it ensures everyone feels heard and valued, regardless of orientation or gender identity: Sometimes that can now actually be because of their orientation or gender.

Roles and role models

Progressing to senior roles often involves taking overseas postings, which challenges centralised Global Mobility policies and practices when it comes to LGBTQ+ employees and their families. Global Mobility professionals need to balance staff concerns and preconceptions with ensuring they’re offered every opportunity with equity. There’s nothing new in this, but despite global progress, regions still vary. Most Asian cultures hold individual corporate seniority in very high esteem, making inclusive and out leaders even more important as role models for tolerance and acceptance—literally, leading by example.

Patrick Barneoud, Regional Head of Benefits and International Mobility at Societe Generale is based in Singapore. He uses a wide range of tools to unify policies and people, implementing the Bank’s diversity and inclusion agenda in an effective and culturally aware manner—ensuring relocation and recognition are available to staff—by creating a living and breathing inclusive culture that’s not simply part of a corporate website or well-meaning manifesto.

Patrick told us “One of my responsibilities is to ensure Societe Generale’s clear commitment to inclusion is implemented across our Global Mobility and benefits offering in the region. That may mean ensuring medical insurances cover same-sex couples, or that the wording of assignment letters doesn’t assume all families are traditional. I was a founding member of the Asia and Hong Kong Pride & Allies network in 2015, and am now the South East Asia (SEA) champion for the programme.

This allows me to have a bird’s-eye view of how diversity, equity and inclusion work in the regional and corporate landscape, especially around LGBTQ+ matters.

Culture is key as it’s the prism through which all diversities will be perceived—and some locations are at different stages of development than others. It doesn’t mean ditching inclusion when it becomes too difficult—but finding other ways to communicate our corporate values. Leading by example is also very important. This means showing advocacy through concrete action and not just words, such as taking part in events or becoming active sponsors of diversity networks. It will help take the stigma out of some types of diversity, including LGBTQ+. Our Chief Country Officer of Singapore & Head of SEA is the Pride & Allies sponsor SEA.

Make it fun and interesting. DE&I shouldn’t be about what is wrong, but also about giving the opportunity for colleagues to learn and enjoy themselves. In Hong Kong, one of our best-attended lunchtime talks was by Amnesty International, presenting on the landscape of LGBTQ+ rights in Asia. LGBTQ+ or not—attendees loved it. Finally, employers should never underrate how much a positive image in terms of DE&I matters to young employees or graduates. Gen Z is very open-minded and wants the culture of their employer to be aligned.

A partner with culture

Many countries offer unique challenges and opportunities for LBGTQ+ relocation and reward. We are tasked with helping our clients navigate these in ways that honour local culture while upholding their central corporate values.

If you’re looking for an expert partner who understands how to ensure workforce inclusivity is celebrated on the world stage, we would love to support you and your teams. Simply drop an email to and we’ll get back to you.

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