‘As far as the LGBTQ+ community is concerned, Argentina is the most liberal and progressive of South American countries…Argentina is also one of the world’s most progressive countries in terms of transgender rights.’
We mark Pride Month with a personal viewpoint from Country Navigator co-founder Hans van der Linden
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the Country Navigator platform has over 100 country guides, featuring detailed information on every aspect of business practices, cultural diversity, including attitudes to LGBTQ+ issues.
‘Transgender people in Argentina are allowed to change their gender on government documents with no requirement for counselling or transition surgery. Medical facilities, private and public, are required by law to provide free hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery,’ reads the CN country guide.
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Sex and gender identities on the corporate agenda
Supporting LGBTQ+ staff is a key concern for many companies operating globally, as well as those who come to us for diversity and inclusion training. Sex and gender identities are higher on the corporate agenda than ever before, and our commitment to developing LGBTQ+ knowledge and awareness through our Country Navigator platform came about as a direct response to corporate demand two or three years ago.
The first question our US clients usually have for us is about security. Will their staff be secure as Americans abroad? And the second question is around LGBTQ+ issues.
When a member of staff is not yet comfortable coming out at work, it is increasingly important that they can rely on us to be sensitive and reliable in addressing their questions. In the 69 countries where homosexuality is illegal, it can be a matter of life and death. Our coaches can help staff navigate the cultural challenges and have greater confidence in an unfamiliar environment.
Are employers doing enough?
Multinational organisations must balance their duty of care to their employees with local law and practices.
In 2021, it is illegal in 69 countries to be gay. In 8 countries, LBTQ+ people can be executed. If organisations expect their employees to be productive and perform at the highest levels, it is essential that both the organization and the employee are aware of the legal, political and societal attitudes to gender identity and sexuality in the countries in which they are expected to operate.
Organizations can also support their staff by creating a culture of openness, so people feel free to express themselves. In addition to online learning, our expert coaches facilitate workshops and masterclasses which give individuals the tools they need to create safe spaces for these discussions.
Do you feel psychologically safe at work?
Feeling psychologically safe in a virtual team is just as important as feeling safe in a global role that involves travel. Individuals may not leave their homes or countries, but be part of an international team working in a cross border, cross cultural environment. In many senses, virtual working is akin to inviting strangers into your home so having the confidence to be yourself in a psychologically safe space is key to maintaining mental wellbeing.
And for those companies where global mobility is still essential, our support goes even further. We offer one to one coaching to those relocating and additional support for partners and children.
At Country Navigator, we’re not just meeting an essential business need. We believe in cultural intelligence, diversity and inclusion.
LGBTQ+ in The Netherlands
I’m Dutch, and I live in the Netherlands, which is one of the most tolerant and progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBTQ+ recognition and rights. Diversity is not just tolerated; it is embraced and celebrated, something I’m personally very proud of.
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriage, in 2001. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal. Same-sex couples can adopt, and lesbian couples are entitled to IVF.
Transgender people are able to change their legal gender with no need for reassignment surgery. In business, LGBTQ+ individuals should feel completely comfortable being out in the workplace. There are no taboos around sexual orientation or gender identity.
While inclusion and diversity are increasingly recognised as essential in the workplace and beyond – there remain many countries where the LGBTQ+ community does not have equal rights.
LGBTQ+ in Zimbabwe
Sadly, the ‘Z’ promised at the start of this article refers to Zimbabwe, which has laws against ‘indecency’, which effectively make homosexuality illegal.
‘LGBTQ people may not marry or form civil partnerships. There are no laws to protect LGBTQ individuals against discrimination and homophobia is common. LGBTQ people living in Zimbabwe say they are marginalised and persecuted. Many choose to move to neighbouring South Africa, which has a more liberal and accepting attitude or live secret lives. Transgender people currently have no rights to change their legal gender,’ warns the CN country guide.
‘Coming out to one’s family would be virtually unthinkable, such are the taboos around LGBTQ issues, and discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace would be unlikely.’
At Country Navigator, we believe in equality for all. Country Navigator is the no.1 platform for cultural intelligence, inclusion and conscious collaboration. Our training tools embed diversity and inclusion, and help individuals and teams learn to understand and value difference.
WRITTEN BY HANS VAN DER LINDEN
Hans van der Linden is co-founder of TMA World and Country Navigator. He has over 30 years of experience in helping leaders, teams and organisations to work better across cultures.
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