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China Daily Website

Anti-homophobia policies would boost productivity in workplace

Updated: 2013-05-18 01:55
By Yang Yao ( China Daily)

Gay-friendly working environments would help boost productivity, said an employment expert.

Zhou Haibin, a project officer of the International Labor Organization, said that a recent research project conducted in 130 companies showed that staff mobility was reduced 7.7 percent and productivity increased 6.5 percent after the companies implemented anti-homophobia policies.

"If LGBT, or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, employees feel more comfortable about their sexual orientation in the workplace, their overall performance will be better," he said.

According to the report, released by the Aibai Culture & Education Center - a Beijing-based gay rights organization - only 6.29 percent of gay people in China choose to be open about their sexuality in the workplace.

About 53 percent of the interviewees have been verbally abused and 32.35 percent have witnessed or experienced physical attacks due to people's sexual orientation at their workplaces, resulting in a lack of interest, inability to focus, low efficiency and even resignations, it said.

The report, which lasted three months, was conducted in 17 provinces nationwide, and a total of 2,161 gay people were interviewed. The survey's results showed that gay people experience more pressure in State-owned enterprises than in private or foreign ones, as they worry that they would lose promotion opportunities in the less-open working environments.

Jimmy Chen, who worked for a State-owned enterprise in Beijing 10 years ago, decided to quit his job as he wanted a more open environment for gay people like him.

Chen joined IBM in 2007. He said that the multinational has positive policies toward LGBT employees and he is now open about his sexual orientation.

He said that working in such an open environment makes him more confident and efficient.

"It even affected how I handle my work," he said. "When I worked for the State-owned company, I was too concerned and cautious about people discovering about my sexuality. But now I can be myself, and therefore I do better at work."

Anti-homophobia policies are still not covered by Chinese legislation and not included in any domestic labor laws or regulations, said Jiang Hui, a spokesman for Aibai.

"This means that this group of people cannot resort to legal remedies when they are discriminated at the workplace," Jiang said.

"What matters at the workplace are employees' skills, not whether we love men or women," said a lesbian who works in the advertising industry and who prefers to be known as Gogo.

An attempt to fight discrimination happened in Hebei province recently. The Equal Employment Opportunity Committee was founded as a pilot project in September. However, up to now no discrimination cases concerning gay rights have been filed.

"In the current context, we rely on companies' awareness of promoting a more open environment for their workers," said the Aibai's Jiang. "Companies adopting a more open attitude toward LGBT employees are actually a win-win solution for both sides."

Xu Lin contributed to this story.