The Polish economy loses up to PLN 9.5 billion a year due to discrimination against sexual minorities - we heard during the panel "Openness to LGBTQ+ people as a business engine" in Poland.
Poland is the least LGBTQ+ friendly country in the EU and ranks last in the Rainbow Europe ranking with a score of 15% on a scale of 0-100%, where the maximum value means full equality and respect for human rights.
The status of the so-called LGBT-free zones are still in force in 67 communes and poviats. The majority of LGBTQ+ people in Poland still hide their identity at work, and their discrimination hurts the economy. Open For Business estimates that the cost of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people are up to PLN 9.5 billion per year, resulting from loss of productivity and health inequalities. Decreased foreign direct investment further raises these estimates.
Research confirms the relationship between the level of innovation and the way the company treats sexual minorities. Poland is fighting to retain highly qualified employees because economic growth depends on talent - the Open For Business analysis showed that the best specialists leave Poland for more open countries.
80 percent of Poles looking for a job declare that they check how open a given company is before submitting their application to it. This is why 57% of of Polish companies want to base their operations on diversity - it is not only about sexual minorities, but also racial differences, people with disabilities, etc. – because even employees who do not belong to any minority know that in a company that recognizes diversity as a value, it is better everyone works.
- British experience shows that companies where employees from minority groups feel excellent attract the best specialists and have 20% more employment with higher productivity than the industry average – said Jennifer Tyldesley, Minister Counselor at the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Warsaw.
- In Hungary today, no one cares about diversity, the environment created by the government is very hostile. 4 years ago, together with the local edition of the Forbes monthly, we organized a campaign promoting openness to LGBTQ+ people – today no company would take part in it, for fear of spoiling relations with the government. With us, rainbow colors are a political statement today - admits Nora Varady from the organization We Are Open.
- It is clear that the change of approach, also in Poland, is promoted by large, global corporations, they pave the way for the others. Many Polish companies do not have the appropriate knowledge on how to do it - they can, however, use the help of non-governmental organizations. A small budget is not an obstacle, because most activities can be implemented at minimal cost, argued Agnieszka Kulikowska from the Campaign Against Homophobia.
This was confirmed by Irma Veberic, General Manager of Roche Polska.
The unknown is scary, so openness is needed. You don't need a lot of money and strategy. It is also not about everyone supporting LGBTQ+ people, but about everyone understanding how important it is for everyone to find their place in the company and feel good in it, said Irma Veberic.
Open For Business is a coalition of global companies. It includes such well-known corporations as m.in. ABB, Accenture, AT&T, C&A, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, EY, Google, GSK, HSBC, IBM, IKEA, JPMorganChase, KPMG, LEGO, L'Oreal, Mastercard, McKinsey & Company, Meta, Microsoft, PWC, Unilever or Virgin .