GLAAD, Leaders of Journalism and Global Business, and The Ariadne Getty Foundation Spotlight Global LGBTQ Acceptance in Davos during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

By |
June 2, 2022

GLAAD was on-the-ground in Davos as the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting took place to raise awareness for current LGBTQ issues including a rise in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, nearly 250 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in the U.S. this year, and the continuous criminalization of LGBTQ people in nearly 70 countries globally.

The World Economic Forum’s ‘Driving LGBTQI+ Resilience through Equity’

The World Economic Forum presented a panel in Congress Centre entitled ‘Driving LGBTQI+ Resilience through Equity.’ GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis moderated the panel which featured: Asha Kharga, Executive Vice President, Brand & Customer Experience, Mahindra Group, Chairperson of the Gender Diversity Council at Mahindra; Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project; Christiana Riley, Member of the Managing Board, Chief Executive Officer, Americas, Deutsche Bank; and Sander Van’t Noordende, Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Executive Board at Randstad. 

Sarah Kate Ellis opened the panel discussing criminalization of LGBTQ people, anti-LGBTQ legislation in the U.S., and violence that the community faces globally. 

She noted: “The IMF contends that an economy is ‘more fragile and less resilient when it is not inclusive.’ This idea will become increasingly apparent because younger people are more open about being LGBTQI. In the U.S., the Gallup poll this year showed that over 20% of Gen Z are LGBT, that is up over 5 points from just last year. Creating more equitable and inclusive societies isn’t just the right thing to do; as the evidence shows, it’s an important part of an economic strategy focused on resilience and recovery.”

During the panel, Randstad's Sander Van't Noordende discussed the power of coming out in the workplace: "Bring your story to work, don't leave it by the door. Tell your story because that's what people need to hear. They need to hear different stories to open their eyes to people that are different than they are.”

Mahindra Group's Asha Kharga shared how to create safe environments for out employees:  “It's about representation in terms of hiring but what's most important is the day to day experience of these folks in our organizations. How comfortable will they feel coming into work? What’s the psychological safety that we offer them in the context of work?”  

And Deutsche Bank's Christiana Riley continued: “It's more than just being a safe space, it's about showing leadership in the space and making sure employees see you expressing that leadership.” -

The panel also discussed the growing number of anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S. with The Trevor Project's Amit Paley noting: "There are bills being passed targeting the most vulnerable people in our world… We need people in positions of power to say this is wrong and we won't stand for it. We need the words to happen and then we need action to follow."


The Ariadne Getty Foundation and GLAAD’s ‘Leading on LGBTQ Acceptance’ 

The Ariadne Getty Foundation and GLAAD, with support from Randstad, also hosted a side event entitled ‘Leading on LGBTQ Acceptance: The Future of Work and Navigating an Activist Led Generation’ and centered on discussing ways companies can take action as allies today.  

Richard Quest, CNN Business Editor-at-large and Anchor or “Quest Means Business,” moderated the panel featuring Sarah Kate Ellis; Christy Pambianchi, EVP and Chief People Officer, Intel Corporation; Shamina Singh, EVP of Sustainability, Mastercard, and Founder & President, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth; and Sander Van’t Noordende, CEO, Randstad. 

Van’t Noordende is one of only four openly LGBTQ CEOs of a Fortune 500 company.

Richard Quest opened the panel noting, “In previous years I have always urged this panel to look outside the United States…This year is different isn’t it. There is a real threat. There is a change in the environment that needs to be addressed in the United States.”

The rest of the panel discussed how companies can play roles in LGBTQ advocacy with Intel Corporation's Christy Pambianci noting: “A lot of the progress we’ve reached to date has been due to the incredible partnerships between the corporate world, NGOs, and public movement and sentiment. We have to continue down that path.”

Mastercard's Shamina Singh discussed the importance of hiring diverse talent: “Innovation without diverse talent is not innovation.”

During the event, The Partnership for Global LGBTQ Equality (PGLE), an initiative of BSR, the World Economic Forum, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, provided an update on its work from Aron Cramer, CEO of BSR. PGLE has been helping corporates operationalize the UN’s Standards of Conduct for Business in Tackling Discrimination Against LGBTQI People.

The AGF and GLAAD event also featured a fireside chat between Ina Fried, Chief Technology Correspondent at Axios, and Joy Dunn, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and the Head of Operations at Commonwealth Fusion Systems. Dunn also oversees manufacturing projects in the U.S. and noted: “I don’t see how you can build a building in the 21st century and not include gender neutral bathrooms.”

Fried spoke about #Letters4TransKids, an affirming campaign she created to send messages of support to trans young people. She explained: “I also couldn't sit by and see young people’s lives made even harder. The fight for trans equality isn't about wanting youth to be trans or nonbinary, or not. All we want for any young person is for them to have the space and support to safely be their fullest self, whoever that is.”

To participate, simply post a message to trans and nonbinary young people on social media using #Letters4TransKids.

During her opening remarks at the event, Ellis introduced a PSA that GLAAD released last month featuring Amber Briggle, the mom of a trans teen in Texas. GLAAD worked with Comcast NBCUniversal, Paramount, WarnerMedia, The Walt Disney Company, and The Ad Council to run versions of the PSA nationwide.

Also during her remarks, Ellis called on corporates to take real action, stating, “Do not post rainbows next month during Pride then look away the rest of the year.”

She continued: “Corporate responsibility is not just employee benefits and hiring– it extends to how a company spends its philanthropic and political dollars. It extends to if a company supports the Equality Act or takes public stands and lobbies against anti-LGBTQ legislation, because legislation impacts LGBTQ employees and consumers.

We’ve seen an unprecedented wave of attacks against our community. Our most vulnerable, our youth, have been hit the hardest – and we need vocal allies more than ever. The business community has had our backs in the past for marriage equality and decriminalization in India in 2018. For that, we thank you. Now is the time to join us again. Join our movement, don’t market to a moment during Pride. We need you, and our youth need you.” 


The Female Quotient’s Corporate Advocacy & LGBTQ Inclusion

The Female Quotient’s Equality Lounge hosted panels on DEI and empowerment throughout the week. Inside the Equality Lounge was a wall with women leaders including Marsha P Johnson and Laverne Cox. 

Sarah Kate Ellis appeared on the Female Quotient’s ‘Corporate Advocacy & LGBTQ Inclusion’ panel moderated by TIME Executive Editor Dan Macsai and featuring Damon Jones, Chief Communications Officer of P&G, to discuss intentional corporate advocacy. The two discussed the Visibility Project from GLAAD and P&G, which works to increase the quantity, quality, and diversity of LGBTQ representation in advertising and public brand communications.

Damon Jones said: "Advertisers have a unique opportunity to both help people see themselves and to truly see others. The most important driver is accurate portrayal — people want to be seen in the fullness of who they are. As we look to effectively communicate and connect with people, the first step is accurate portrayal.”


Visibility matters and LGBTQ visibility at global convenings like the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos is growing at a time when the leaders of business, politics, and civil society need to speak out and take action on LGBTQ issues.