A recent proposal from the Danish government will have Parliament discussing and voting on the right to share parental leave between more than two legal parents.
You might think that this idea sprung from Christiansborg alone. But no, in fact two major, international corporations played a significant part in the birth of this proposed legislative change.
It began with one IKEA employee expecting a child with his husband and a women carrying the child. He went to IKEA management and asked: This is my situation – what are my rights?
Fortuitously, IKEA had already begun work on the topic of rainbow families’ rights and benefits and the company was able to reply to the employee that he would have the right to parental leave.
What happened next is where IKEA went just a bit further. They had learned that the other father worked for ISS, so IKEA reached out to their people and found that they were also granting rights to their employee. Which led to a discussion of how the two companies could collaborate to create a push for broader implementation of this in companies of all sizes.
Joining forces with the Danish LGBT+-organisation, the Ministry of Equality was contacted, and discussions began – and now new legislation has been proposed.
“This is a great example of joint advocacy between businesses and also NGOs. This type of collaboration in massively important and we need to ask each other how we can move together to change the world,” commented Bianca Nijhof, who is co-chair of the NGO “Workplace Pride”, as Sara Lynge Skovhede from IKEA Danmark told the story at a morning event on 20th August 2021.
About collaboration and standards
The subject of the event, organized by Dansk Industri and advisor group BSR, was the private sector’s role in advancing LGBTQ+ inclusion.
Collaboration on advocacy is one way to work for inclusion and a way that the corporate representatives from ISS, Ørsted, Telia and Kerry Group recognised as an important place to add to their existing more internally focused efforts.
Especially companies with activities in the many countries where LGBT+-persons are unsafe can play an important part in pushing for change. However, their primary function might be to provide LGBT+-persons with a safe space to use their skills and competencies.
Another way suggested by the organisers of the event was to formally become a supporter of the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality (PGLE). This can be done fairly easily by establishing a letter of support from a corporate executive on behalf of the company.
PGLE base their advice for working with inclusion on the UN Standards of Conduct for tackling LGBT+ discrimination: respect human rights, eliminate discrimination, provide support, prevent other human rights violations and act in the public sphere. The organization also provides access to information and experience from other supporters.
Tools and a friendly reminder
For many companies LGBT+-inclusion is about getting started.
Sara Krüger Falk from Global Compact Denmark said at the event that her organization and BSR recognized this need and are launching a publicly accessible, free of charge self-assessment tool in September this year to help companies find out where to begin their work.
A word of advice - and perhaps a little bit of warning – came from Paul Jansen from the organization OutRight Action International that does advocacy work, research and invests in LGBT+ projects and movements across the world.
“Whichever way you want to get started or continue your work for equality and non-discrimination, we always say that this is about human rights. The right to live free from oppression and discrimination. That is where all the questions and solutions begin.”