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What I learnt about the Embassy Model

Updated: Jun 2, 2023



The Embassy Model is a framework for corporations to create a safe and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees. It was developed by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Out Leadership organisation. The model is based on the idea that corporations can create a safe and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees by creating an "embassy" within the company. The embassy is a space where LGBTQ+ employees can feel safe and supported and connect with other LGBTQ+ employees and allies.


The "Embassy Model" is a term used to describe a corporate policy that aims to protect LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This model is named after the role of embassies in foreign countries, which offer a safe haven for citizens of that country who may face persecution or danger.


In the corporate context, the Embassy Model involves designating specific employees, often from the HR department, as "Embassy" or "Safe Zone" representatives. These representatives are trained to support and guide LGBTQ+ employees who may experience discrimination or harassment. In addition, they act as a point of contact for employees with concerns about their treatment at work and can help connect them with resources or support networks.


The Embassy Model also involves creating policies and procedures that explicitly protect LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination and harassment and actively promoting a culture of inclusion and diversity throughout the organisation. This can include offering diversity and inclusion training to all employees and ensuring that LGBTQ+ employees are represented in leadership positions and decision-making processes.

Overall, the Embassy Model is a way for corporations to demonstrate their commitment to creating a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal characteristics.


The Embassy Model has five key components:

  • Leadership commitment: The highest levels of leadership must be committed to creating a safe and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees. This commitment must be communicated throughout the organisation.

  • Policies and procedures: The company must have policies and procedures that protect LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination and harassment. These policies must be clear, comprehensive, and easy to understand.

  • Training: All employees must be trained on the company's policies and procedures related to LGBTQ+ inclusion. This training should be mandatory and should be updated regularly.

  • Employee resource groups: The company should create employee resource groups (ERGs) for LGBTQ+ employees. These ERGs can provide a space for LGBTQ+ employees to connect, learn about LGBTQ+ issues, and advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace.

  • Outreach and education: The company should reach out to LGBTQ+ communities and educate the public about LGBTQ+ issues. This outreach can help to create a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees and their families.

Here are some additional benefits of implementing the Embassy Model:

  • Increased employee satisfaction and engagement.

  • Improved productivity.

  • Reduced turnover.

  • Enhanced corporate reputation.

  • Attracted and retained top talent.

  • Compliance with anti-discrimination laws.

The Embassy Model can be an effective way for corporations to support LGBTQ+ employees in areas where it is not legal or safe to do so in public. By creating a safe and inclusive workplace, corporations can help to ensure that LGBTQ+ employees feel welcome and supported, regardless of the laws or attitudes of the surrounding community.


Here are some examples of corporations that have implemented the Embassy Model:


Apple: Apple has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ rights. In 2014, the company became the first Fortune 500 company to offer domestic partner benefits to all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Apple also has a strong employee resource group (ERG) for LGBTQ+ employees called ApplePride.


Google: Google is another company committed to creating a safe and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees. The company has comprehensive policies and procedures that protect LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination and harassment. Google also has a strong ERG for LGBTQ+ employees, called Google+.


Microsoft: Microsoft is a company constantly striving to improve its LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts. In 2018, the company launched its "All In" diversity and inclusion initiative, focusing on LGBTQ+ inclusion. Microsoft also has a strong ERG for LGBTQ+ employees called OUT@Microsoft.


PayPal is committed to creating a workplace where all employees feel welcome and respected. The company has comprehensive policies and procedures that protect LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination and harassment. PayPal also has a strong ERG for LGBTQ+ employees called PayPal Pride.


Starbucks: Starbucks is a company known for its commitment to social responsibility. The company has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ rights and has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ equality. Starbucks also has a strong ERG for LGBTQ+ employees called GLBT@Starbucks.


Google: Google has a robust Embassy Model program that includes a network of over 3,000 employee volunteers, known as "Gayglers," who serve as advocates and resources for LGBTQ+ employees. The company also provides diversity and inclusion training for all employees and has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment.


IBM: IBM has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ rights and was among the first companies to offer same-sex partner benefits. The company's Embassy Model program includes a network of "Pride Champions" who provide support and resources for LGBTQ+ employees and allies. IBM also offers training on LGBTQ+ issues and has a non-discrimination policy that includes gender identity and expression.


Accenture: Accenture has a global program called "Pride at Accenture" to promote a culture of inclusion and support for LGBTQ+ employees. The program includes a network of over 45,000 allies and advocates and training and resources to support LGBTQ+ employees.


American Airlines: American Airlines has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ rights and was among the first airlines to offer same-sex partner benefits. In addition, the company's Embassy Model program includes designated "Diversity Champions" who provide support and resources for LGBTQ+ employees and training on LGBTQ+ issues for all employees.


Procter & Gamble: Procter & Gamble has a global program called "GABLE" (Gay, Ally, Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender, and Everyone) that aims to promote a culture of inclusion and diversity throughout the organisation. The program includes a network of LGBTQ+ and ally employees and training and resources to support LGBTQ+ employees.


These corporations have all taken steps to create a safe and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, even in countries where it is not legal or safe to do so in public. Their efforts have helped to make a real difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ employees, and they have helped to create a more inclusive world for everyone.


The Embassy Model is not without its challenges. For example, corporations may face legal or political pressure in some countries to not support LGBTQ+ employees. In other countries, there may be a lack of awareness or understanding of LGBTQ+ issues. However, the benefits of the Embassy Model outweigh the challenges. By creating a safe and inclusive workplace, corporations can help to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ employees and make a positive impact on the world.


Here are some of the things that companies that have implemented the Embassy Model have done that others can consider actionable steps:

  • It has adopted a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. This statement shows the company's commitment to creating a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees.

  • It offered training on LGBTQ+ topics to employees. This can help to educate employees about LGBTQ+ issues and create a more understanding and supportive environment.

  • They created employee resource groups or networks for LGBTQ+ employees. These groups can provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ employees to connect and get support.

  • It sponsored social activities for LGBTQ+ employees. This can help to build community and create a more welcoming workplace for LGBTQ+ employees.

  • It supported LGBTQ+ organisations and causes. This can help to show employees that the company is committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

These are just a few things companies can do to implement the Embassy Model. By taking these steps, companies can create a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Here are some additional tips for companies that are considering implementing the Embassy Model:

  • Be proactive. Don't wait for employees to come to you with concerns. Instead, take the initiative to reach out to LGBTQ+ employees and tell them you are committed to creating a safe and inclusive workplace.

  • Be inclusive. Don't just focus on LGBTQ+ employees. Ensure that your policies and practices include all employees, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

  • Be patient. It takes time to create a truly inclusive workplace. Don't get discouraged if you don't see results overnight. Keep working at it, and you will eventually see a difference.

By following these tips, companies can create a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Here are some additional questions that organisations can ask themselves to reflect on how they can be more inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ+ employees:

  • Do we have a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity?

  • Do we offer training on LGBTQ+ topics to employees?

  • Do we have employee resource groups or networks for LGBTQ+ employees?

  • Do we sponsor social activities for LGBTQ+ employees?

  • Do we support LGBTQ+ organisations and causes?

By asking these questions, organisations can assess their current level of inclusivity and identify areas where they can improve. By creating a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees, organisations can attract and retain top talent, build a strong culture, and give back to their community.



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