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Since 2016, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation has been working with top employers and multinationals to promote LGBT workplace inclusion and equality in Mexico through HRC Equidad MX: Global Workplace Equality Program - HRC’s first in-country program in Latin America. Working hand in hand with ADIL, one of Mexico’s largest Diversity & Inclusion Consulting Firms, HRC has established a leading benchmarking tool assessing LGBT inclusion in workplaces across the country.
In its fifth year, the pioneering program has changed the way Mexican companies and multinationals approach diversity and inclusion practices in the workplace. Since its inception, the program has experienced outstanding growth and success: In the survey’s inaugural year, 32 companies in Mexico — including PEMEX, Mexico's State-owned petroleum company and one of the largest employers in Latin America — earned top ratings. That number jumped to 69 companies in 2018 and reached 120 in 2019, including 36 that are based in Mexico. Last year, the program recognized a record-breaking number of 212 companies with the HRC’s seal of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”
As the fifth launch of the survey approaches, HRC sat down with HRC Equidad MX implementing partners Francisco Robledo and Fernando Velázquez to talk about their experiences leading this work and the future of the program.
How did you manage to go from zero to 200+ companies in less than five years?
With years of experience working on diversity and inclusion consulting related to LGBT workplace inclusion, and the support of a handful of U.S. multinationals leading these efforts, the timing to launch Equidad MX was perfect. In 2014, Mexico City hosted the first congress of LGBT-inclusive practices and Pride Connection, the network of LGBT-inclusive businesses, was launched the same year. The close economic relationship between the U.S. and Mexico helped shape the way in which U.S.-based companies engage with its Mexican counterparts and how they sought to expand their mission to give all their employees the same inclusive daily experience.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced while implementing this work in Mexico?
LGBT inclusion has grown into a household practice for companies in Mexico as we have some of the most forward legislations in Latin America toward non-discrimination, however, the challenge remains to put them into the practice in the everyday lives of the community, and especially in their workplace. During the initial phase of the program, one of the challenges was that very few openly LGBT emerged leaders accompanied our efforts.
What type of impact has the program had in the daily lives of LGBT workers?
We are proud of the progress and positive change ignited by HRC Equidad MX, but are mindful of the work that remains to achieve full inclusion and equality of LGBT workers. Most celebrate that their workplace is now a safe place where they can be their full selves and thus achieve their full professional potential without distractions. Despite the improvements and better practices in the workplace, there are many areas of opportunity where companies can move the needle to create even greater and better equality and inclusion for LGBT employees, especially those who identify as transgender and nonbinary.
What are some of the expectations for the fifth edition?
The growth has been so fast in our first four years that in order to keep it up, we need all the help we can get from participating companies as well as corporate and civil society leaders. Each day we find that more companies, including more Mexico-based companies, are interested in joining the Equidad MX program, but their starting point is further away than the first cohort of companies that have been working on LGBT equality for a few years. We are looking to continue to expand our work beyond Mexico City and boost our growth.
What challenges and advantages are posed by the virtual office era?
The biggest challenge one we see is the understanding of the workplace as a “safe place,” which for many meant the physical office space versus the virtual office, where oftentimes community members cannot be themselves. These situations arise when LGBT workers live in homes with families that do not know about their identities or do not support them. The lack of social interaction creates an extra layer of stress for workers, especially as it relates to mental and emotional well-being. On the other hand, and as implementing partners, remote work has allowed us to reach a good number of companies based across the country.