Open For Business names Virgin as a Global Equality Champion

Open For Business
Open For Business
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
20 May 2021

Virgin has been recognised as a Global Equality Champion in the Open For Business 2020-2021 Impact Report. The report highlights the great progress that Open For Business has made to advance LGBTQ+ rights around the world.

Virgin and Virgin Atlantic have supported Open For Business for the past few years. In 2020, Virgin Atlantic helped to launch the Caribbean local Influencer Program. This is a multiyear effort to build a strong network of business leaders in the Caribbean to advance the inclusion and rights of LGBTQ+ people in the region. The first stage has developed cutting-edge research and macroeconomic estimates on the ‘cost’ of LGBTQ+ exclusion in the region, to work toward strong – and more inclusive – business and economic outcomes.

Across the Caribbean, out of date laws banning same-sex love and non-conforming expressions of gender are upheld to varying degrees by some governments. LGBTQ+ people in the region face stigma that excludes the community from meaningful opportunities, especially employment.

Open For Business has brought together key stakeholders, including Virgin Atlantic, to create a coalition of civil society organisations, businesses, members of government, and international organisations. They are now ready to move into the second stage of the programme, activating the findings of the research. 

Through a series of in-depth interviews with business leaders, Open For Business uncovered a number of challenges for the LGBTQ+ community in securing employment. It also discovered that the extent of exclusion from education, healthcare and employment that lead to LGBTQ+ people leaving the Caribbean. In a separate survey, Open For Business asked prospective tourists about their feelings on travelling to the Caribbean, given its discriminatory laws.

Open For Business, with support from Virgin and Virgin Atlantic, is now looking at how to build a healthier, strong and more inclusive economy in the region. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Caribbean hard as tourism has been depleted. However, Open For Business continues to work toward a business and economic ecosystem that works for everyone – and that demands the inclusion and rights of LGBTQ+ people.

Visit Open For Business to find out more.