OutNEWS — Allies in Asia

To allies around the world,

Since our foundation over 150 years ago, HSBC has brought different people and cultures together through our global network. Connecting customers to opportunities, enabling businesses to thrive, economies to prosper, and helping people to bring their dreams to life.

Because of our international foundation, diversity is integral to our history, purpose, and, most importantly, our shared future together. That’s why we are committed to improving diversity and inclusion, including for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and more community.

A key part of this is allyship. As an ally, I feel strongly that each of us can actively contribute to creating an inclusive and supportive environment so that our LGBTQ+ colleagues and customers feel welcome and valued every day.

I’m looking forward to meeting with other allies alongside all the LGBTQ+ leaders at the Out Leadership Asia Summit in Tokyo in March. In 2024, HSBC’s relationship with Out Leadership enters its second decade, so we are excited to celebrate the progress made in that time.

Many thanks to Todd Sears, Founder and CEO of Out Leadership, and all his team for the tireless work they do, and I hope to see many of you in Tokyo.


Edward Weeks
President and Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Japan


Pictured above: Edward Weeks, CEO & Country Manager, HSBC Japan, speaking at the 2023 Out Leadership Asia Summit

Here’s what you need to know this week…

Out Leadership fights for LGBTQ+ inclusion at the SEC.

Out Leadership continues its advocacy for LGBTQ+-inclusive board diversity as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission considers implementing new board diversity disclosure requirements. In a letter submitted to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler on Friday, Out Leadership Founder & CEO Todd Sears urged the Commission to adopt stronger and broader LGBTQ+-inclusive disclosure requirements to improve business outcomes across American enterprises.

For the last nine years, our OutQUORUM initiative has addressed the dearth of LGBTQ+ representation in corporate governance by generating both the demand for LGBTQ+ inclusion and creating the supply of talented, board-ready leaders to serve in senior roles.

Out Leadership’s research, which was cited by the Nasdaq seven times in a memorandum to the SEC on their Board Diversity Rule was instrumental in fueling these changes.

  • As a result of a change in Nasdaq’s Board Diversity Rule which took effect in 2022, 50% of the 3,743 companies listed on the NASDAQ now include LGBTQ+ people in their definition of board diversity, an increase of 1656% from last year.
  • In the Fortune 1000, 23.2% of companies have LGBTQ+ inclusive board diversity policies, an increase of 566% from 2022.

In 2016 Out Leadership wrote new board diversity policies for the four largest pension funds in the United States (New York City, New York State, CalPERS, and CalSTRS) to make them LGBTQ+ inclusive. Beginning in 2023 our OutQUORUM report began tracking not just American companies, but indexes and exchanges globally.

Out Leadership maintains turnkey solutions for businesses to adopt LGBTQ+-inclusive board diversity policies in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, with policies for Hong Kong coming soon.

Out Leadership returns to London for our 12th Annual Europe Summit.

Out Leadership is excited to announce our 12th Annual Europe Summit, convening senior LGBTQ+ business leaders, allies, activists, and talent for crucial conversations on where we are in the LGBTQ+ movement and how businesses can best drive sustainable progress in equality.

Members can register in the Out Leadership Member Portal.

Greece Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage.

Greece legalized same-sex marriage last week, making the Hellenic Republic the first Orthodox Christian nation to implement marriage equality. A multi-party majority of Greece’s parliament voted in support of the bill, with 176 lawmakers in favor. The bill passed despite strong opposition from the socially conservative Greek Orthodox Church.

Same-sex marriage is now legally performed and recognized in 37 countries. Among the world’s most economically developed countries, Italy, Japan, and South Korea lag behind their counterparts in recognizing same-sex marriage. China and Russia ban advocacy of marriage equality.

Justice Alito again signals willingness to overturn marriage equality.

Pictured above (clockwise from top left): Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Sonia Sotomayor.

United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito resents that anti-LGBTQ+ hatred is no longer acceptable, according to a statement he issued earlier this week.

The statement came as the Supreme Court declined to hear a case wherein a lesbian plaintiff’s lawyer had asked a judge to remove three jurors who had expressed anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments in jury selection. The state of Missouri appealed the case, arguing that the jurors had been discriminated against on the basis of their Christian faith. The appellate court sided with the original plaintiff, emphasizing that the jurors had been removed due to their clear bias against homosexuality, not because of their religion.

“That holding exemplifies the danger that I anticipated in Obergefell v. Hodges,” Alito wrote, alluding to the 2015 case that legalized same-sex marriage. “Namely, that Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government.”

Justice Alito seemed unconcerned by the fact that the jurors in question were not merely being labeled as bigots, but had clearly and unequivocally stated their bias against LGBTQ+ people, the exact kind of predisposition that jury selection is intended to remove.

Out Leadership and our partners are building a pre-emptive business case to protect marriage equality. Contact us if you’d like to be involved.

Make sure to join our Q1 Member Council Meeting next week with Mizuho!

Out Leadership and Mizuho are gearing up for 2024 with a collaborative workshop at our Q1 Member Council Meeting. A roundtable discussion will focus on advancing inclusion and sustainability in times of legal and political risk.

Next week, join leaders from across Out Leadership’s member firms to strategize how to engage our companies for an exciting year of advocacy initiatives, talent development, and research programs. We’ll also delve into our achievements from 2023 and how to leverage lessons from the past year to accelerate upcoming priorities on emergent issues, including threats to marriage equality, trans rights, and attacks on corporate social responsibility programs.

Let’s get to work!

Nonbinary teenager dies after Oklahoma high school bathroom fight.

Pictured above: Nex Benedict.

An Oklahoma teenager died after an altercation in the school bathroom, in the latest example of violence against the LGBTQ+ community. Nex Benedict, who identified as nonbinary, was knocked to the ground, hit their head on the floor, and suffered other significant injuries, according to their mother.

The brutal and fatal nature of the incident has underscored apparent failures by school administration, police, and state officials to protect gender-diverse students. No report on the incident occurred until the injured student was taken to the hospital by relatives, at which point the school resource officer was involved. Nex was subsequently discharged from the hospital and returned home. Hours later, Nex collapsed and was transported back to the hospital, where they died.

LGBTQ+ advocates note that state laws that police gender expression in public bathrooms encourage more confrontations in bathrooms, which increases the risk of violence. In 2022, Republican leaders in Oklahoma passed a bill requiring students to use bathrooms that aligned with their sex assigned at birth. At the time of the altercation, Nex was using the bathroom in accordance with the law.

Did you know?

Pictured above: Theresa Goh, Singaporean swimmer and Paralympic medalist at Out Leadership’s first OutWOMEN+ Asia event in Hong Kong

In 2016, Out Leadership held its first-ever OutWOMEN Asia event, hosted by Standard Chartered, and featuring a panel with openly LGBTQ+, medal-winning, paralympic swimmer, Theresa Goh. The same year, Marriage equality passed in Australia, and Out Leadership celebrated this momentous event at our CEO dinner.


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