People should be able to be themselves and love whoever they want to love without fear. I’d love to see a world where all people are thriving, because of who they are, not in spite of it.
I am thrilled to be one of this year’s ambassadors for Pride Live’s Stonewall Day campaign to raise awareness and support for the Stonewall legacy and the continuing fight for LGBTQ+ equality. I'm looking forward to talking about how I strongly believe in making our businesses as inclusive and welcoming as possible. LGBT+ discrimination is not just bad from a human rights perspective, it’s also bad for business. Open and inclusive societies are more competitive, creative and innovative.
While celebrating Pride gives us great focus, I’m a firm believer that business can play a really positive role in supporting the LGBTQ+ community all year round and I’ve been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ+ rights for decades. When I was a teenager, I set up Student Magazine and we had many people write to us to raise the issue. It was part of the reason I set up the Student Advisory Centre, a helpline where young callers with problems could retain their anonymity and get help from the right people. I realised that many young gay people were being ostracised and wanted to meet other gay people and feel part of a community. This led me on to buying Heaven, Europe’s biggest gay nightclub, in London in 1981. Heaven was (and is) a special place for the gay community in London – it was somewhere they could openly be themselves and meet other like-minded people.
We’ve gone on to sponsor Pride festivals, host international panels, helped launch Open for Business, a business-led coalitions to make the economic case for LGBTQ+ inclusion, and used our voice to support to the abolition of anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
Happy Pride season all our LGBTQ+ friends and family. Let’s all take a moment to remember that we still have a long way to go until LGBTQ+ rights are championed around the world. We must all come together to keep fighting for equality around the world, and business must play a role in this fight.