Introduction Dianne

Introduction Dianne

Dear ECWO Followers,

In our spring newsletter we wanted to broaden the talk of diversity at ECWO by speaking about lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transsexual (LGBT) identity in the workplace. To introduce the topic, we have two interesting interviews: One with Wiley Davi who teaches on our Women in Leadership Programme, and a second with Gabi Helfert who is Policy Advisor at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. Both share with the readers some of their work and private life experiences as non-straight women.

Although LGBT remains a sensitive issue for some, we believe at ECWO that companies should create a supportive workplace for all employees. That this is certainly not always the case is graphically illustrated by the fact that, in “modern Europe”, 46% of German LGBT people feel they experience workplace discrimination or harassment because of their sexual orientation ! Can you imagine the stress of not being able to show your true identity at work because you are afraid of a negative backlash? At ECWO, consistent with our strongly held views about women in the workforce, we believe that companies fostering awareness and knowledge around LGBT create an inclusive environment that keeps talented people in their workforce.

Hein Knaapen, chief HR officer of ING Bank NV, spoke about his experience as a gay man at our recently held ECWO conference. He acknowledged that “when you are part of a minority there is an unconscious bias, whether you are gay, black or a woman in a senior role” and concluded: “If we want to change things, we must keep making an impact.”

Given the increasingly geographical spread of our readership, I thought it would be valuable to list a few definitions of terms hereunder. This list comes from a comprehensive list provided by The Human Rights Campaign .

I look forward to seeing you at one of the workshops or master classes. Let’s continue to be active in changing the diversity paradigm in our companies.

As always, keep in touch.  

Kind regards,


· Bisexual: A person emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree.  

· Closeted: Describes an LGBT person who has not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

· Coming out: The process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates his or her sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with others.  

· Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. 

· Gender identity: One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.  

· Gender non-conforming: A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. 

· Homophobia: The fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who are attracted to members of the same sex.  

· Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women.  

· LGBT: An acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.”  

· Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.