LGBTQ Issues Shine during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos with GLAAD, the Ariadne Getty Foundation, and the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality

GLAAD was on-the-ground in Davos, Switzerland last week with the Ariadne Getty Foundation to raise awareness for LGBTQ people and issues during the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting.

The Annual Meeting welcomes the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. The mission of the World Economic Forum is simple: “improve the state of the world.”

Acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, a member of WEF’s Board of Trustees, closed the week with an unforgettable performance at the Ariadne Getty Foundation’s LGBTQ dinner.

“Visibility of LGBTQ issues at a convening like Davos is a huge opportunity not only for LGBTQ people around the world, but for the global leaders in politics and business who attend the annual meeting,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “So many prominent leaders in attendance have locked arms with LGBTQ advocates and it’s clear that the time is right for the World Economic Forum and the Davos community to tackle LGBTQ issues throughout the year. The door is open to join together and create real change around striking down existing anti-LGBTQ laws and growing acceptance worldwide.”

GLAAD and the Ariadne Getty Foundation hosted a panel entitled ‘Leading on LGBTQ Acceptance,’ featuring some of the biggest names in media, advertising, and business to share best practices for including LGBTQ people in internal policies as well as public communication.

GLAAD’s Sarah Kate Ellis opened the standing-room-only event by speaking about the power of representation and called on companies in attendance to showcase LGBTQ people and families in advertising and other public communications.

The crowd became emotional after an impassioned speech on the power of representation by P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard.  As a company that reaches 5 billion people every day with their brands, P&G is choosing to use their voice in advertising to promote equality and inclusion. He shared how P&G is building LGBTQ marketing into the fabric of P&G’s brand building.

During his remarks, Pritchard played an ad released by Gillette featuring a young Black transgender man shaving with this dad; shining the light on the power of a first shave and reinforcing a shared bond between all men, transgender and cisgender alike.  He also showed an ad released in Europe by Pantene reinforcing the power of hair as the most visible way for trans people to represent themselves to the world.  Overall, Pritchard’s message was simple and inspiring for the corporate leaders in the room: “P&G supports all people. All families. We do not define families, love defines families.”

CNN International’s Richard Quest, a LGBTQ champion and leader in business journalism, moderated the panel discussion which included:

  • Dan Bross, Executive Director, Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality (a project of the World Economic Forum)
  • Mark Getty, Co-Founder & Chairman, Getty Images
  • Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, P&G
  • Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership & Human Resources Officer, Accenture

Following the panel, Geena Rocero, a producer, model, and trans advocate, spoke with Ariadne Getty, President and Executive Director of the Ariadne Getty Foundation. Rocero opened up about the state of trans rights around the world and spoke with Getty about her daughter Nats’ recent wedding to trans author and advocate Gigi Gorgeous, who were also in attendance.

“Businesses need to help us eliminate discrimination that LGBTQ people face,” said Ariadne Getty. “It is a human right to be safe, have equal rights and opportunities, and not be discriminated against. The world leaders and business leaders at Davos are the ones that have the power and access to really make that happen and the Ariadne Getty Foundation will continue to provide the roadmap to do it.”

The Ariadne Getty Foundation works with partners worldwide to improve the lives of individuals and communities through large-scale investments and hands-on advocacy. Three years ago during Davos, AGF announced a $15 million multi-year lead gift to launch the GLAAD Media Institute. AGF also donated $2 million to the LA LGBT Center to open the Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy, which opened in April 2019. Last year, Ariadne was named Variety’s Philanthropist of the Year and was honored with the Washington Blade’s Lifetime Achievement Award for LGBTQ Advocacy. You can follow the Ariadne Getty Foundation on Instagram to see news about their work with the LA LGBT Center, GLAAD, the United Nations Foundation, Trans Law Center, and several other important organizations.

There were several other LGBTQ-inclusive events during Davos, including five  official panels put on by the World Economic Forum.

Earlier in the week, the Female Quotient also hosted a LGBTQ-themed panel which featured GLAAD’s Sarah Kate Ellis, as well as Gigi Gorgeous, Nats Getty, and Ariadne Getty. The panel, moderated by Politico’s Ryan Heath, also featured Wanuri Kahiu, a filmmaker from Kenya behind the powerful film ‘Rafiki,’ which is nominated for a GLAAD Media Award this year. The film was selected to premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, a first for a Kenyan film, but was banned in Kahiu's home country, because of the LGBTQ content. Kahiu won a lawsuit around the film and it was able to play for seven days.

GLAAD’s Sarah Kate Ellis also participated in a session hosted by the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality (PLGE), which launched during Davos 2019. PGLE is a coalition of organizations committed to leveraging their individual and collective advocacy to accelerate LGBTI equality and inclusion globally. The Partnership is supported by UN Human Rights and is operated in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. The founding members were leading multinational companies Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, CISCO, the Coca-Cola Company, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, EY, Edelman, Mastercard, Microsoft, P&G, PepsiCo, PwC, Salesforce, and Scotiabank.

Last week during Davos, PGLE’s session featured  executives from Human Rights Watch, HRC, Deloitte, Salesforce, Open for Business and UN Human Rights  to discuss best practices for global LGBTQ inclusion. CNN International’s Julia Chatterley moderated the session which also included an interview with Ellis about GLAAD’s work to hold global brands accountable on LGBTQ issues.

There were other key LGBTQ highlights during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting too:

  • Jin Xing, a transgender woman and TV host from China received the Crystal Award, WEF’s highest honor.
  • As noted in the World Economic Forum’s closing press release, PGLE looks to enlist at least 50 member companies over the next year.
  • Openly, a global digital platform powered by the Thomson Reuters Foundation which delivers important LGBTQ news, spoke with Gigi Gorgeous, Nats Getty, and August Getty about their LGBTQ advocacy.  
  • The World Economic Forum hosted five  official panels on LGBTQ issues including a conversation with Wanuri Kahiu on artistic freedom and a discussion on being out in the workplace moderated by Geena Rocero.
  • Gigi Gorgeous and her wife Nats Getty participated in a Facebook Live with designer August Getty about LGBTQ youth today.


  • Ellis participated in a Facebook Live entitled ‘Return on Equity’ alongside Jim Fitterling CEO, Dow Inc.; Dame Vivian Hunt Managing Partner UK & Ireland, McKinsey & Company; Nicola Mendelsohn CBE Vice President EMEA, Facebook; and Christiana Riley CEO, Deutsche Bank USA. Krishna Omkar, a London-based lawyer at King & Spalding moderated.