(Editor’s note: In light of the Pulse nightclub attack on 12 June 2016 in Orlando, we feel it’s about time Dispatches recognized European companies with LGBT-inclusive policies such as Deutsche Bank.)
As a transgender woman living in the United States, but planning to move to Europe, I’ve been fortunate to pursue writing – specifically journalism – as my career.
Sure, I have to deal with paranoid types who think I’m going to do more than pee in a public restroom, as well as government overreach from my old Kentucky home regarding the gender marker on my birth certificate and ID. And yet, all has gone well in my personal and (especially) professional lives despite the insanity infecting the United States.
The same cannot be said for all of my transgender brothers and sisters, however. In December 2015, the New York City Office of the Mayor, alongside the NYC Community Affairs Unit, the U.S. subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Barclays held a forum regarding the economic empowerment of transgender individuals in the U.S. Panelists included activist and actress Laverne Cox, activist CeCe McDonald, and community organizer LaLa Zannell.
Early in the panel, Cox said the following involving the economic reality for most transgender women in the U.S.:
A lot of transwomen who were murdered this year were involved in some kind of street economy, and maybe… didn’t have a place to live. So, [if] you are homeless, and you’re dealing with street economy, you are much more likely to be a victim or survivor of violence. So, jobs and opportunities and resources are a key to [escaping violence].
Cox wondered what the private sector could do to help transgender and gender nonconforming individuals out of homelessness and the street economy, such as job training programs, citing forum co-sponsor Deutsche Bank as a possible example. At the end of the panel, Deutsche Bank USA vice president Jon Tilli announced both his company and British bank Barclays would enact such programs.
(Editor’s note: Deutsche Bank USA currently has a celebration of LBGT Pride Month prominently displayed on the bank’s landing page with the motto, “Diversity brings out the best in everyone, including our business.”)
A more recent example of Deutsche Bank’s commitment to the transgender community would come in early April 2016, when the bank froze plans to expand operations in North Carolina following the state’s passage of House Bill 2, which includes legislation barring transgender individuals from using the restroom of the gender they identify as.
In a press release, bank co-CEO John Cryan stated the following: “We take our commitment to building inclusive work environments seriously. We’re proud of our operations and employees in Cary and regret that as a result of this legislation we are unwilling to include North Carolina in our U.S. expansion plans for now.” Cryan added his company hoped to revisit expansion plans, which would have brought 250 new jobs to North Carolina, in the near term.
But what does Deutsche Bank’s recent actions in the U.S. have to do with Europe? The bank isn’t alone.
Per a recent article in Foreign Policy, the European Union issued a statement condemning the anti-transgender actions of North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Specifically, the EU says said actions “contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the US is a State party, and which states that the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection.” The statement adds such laws “should be reconsidered as soon as possible,” reaffirms the EU’s commitment “to the equality and dignity of all human beings irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” and closes with the promise to continue to bring such discrimination to an end, “and to counter attempts to embed or enhance discrimination wherever it occurs around the world.”
Of course, the EU joins the many voices from the other side of the Atlantic who are against the transgender discrimination occurring in the U.S., from Britain’s warning to LGBT travelers visiting North Carolina and Mississippi, to the aforementioned pausing of Deutsche Bank’s expansion plans.
Recently, Deutsche Bank issued this statement regarding North Carolina’s anti-LGBT legislation:
This was highlighted in its recent announcement to freeze expansion plans in Cary, North Carolina as the result of state legislation which invalidated existing protections of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fellow citizens in some municipalities.
Deutsche Bank has also sponsored an event entitled Multi National Corporations: LGBT Equality and The Global Economy which was held in New York and broadcast around the world. The event explored the risks and rewards of LGBT inclusiveness for MNCs operating in various jurisdictions. Speakers included: Paul Singer, Founder, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chief Investment Officer of Elliott Management; Fred Hochberg, Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States; and Indian Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, India’s first openly gay prince; moderated by Jill Schlesinger of CBS News.