#MarriageEquality: Because success is based on diversity

Somewhat surprisingly, the discussion about the #marriageforall has been refueled this week – which is a good thing. After all, the protection against discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation and identity is firmly established in the charter of fundamental rights of the European Union. Now is the time for Germany to put an end to the discrimination of same-sex partnerships and enable marriage for all. Because the success of our democratic society is rooted on diversity – including the diversity of opinion and tolerance, the peaceful coexistence of various cultures, and the possibility of free development of the individual human being.

We at Microsoft are strongly convinced that innovation can best thrive in a (working) world which embraces individual lifestyles and equally supports people of different origin and with different qualifications. Living diversity has always been a key building block of our corporate culture. More specifically, it entails that we do not ask our employees who their parents are, what they believe in, or what political view they have. We do not care about who they love or how their bodies look like – we are solely interested in learning about what they can and want to contribute to our shared success.

Innovations emanate from the inclusion of everybody

In a world increasingly shaped by diversity, we as a company, but also society at large can only be permanently innovative and successful through inclusion, i.e., by integrating everybody. This is why we have been actively committed to the legal equal treatment of the LGBT community for many years. Microsoft was one of the first companies to incorporate sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policies. Since 1993, employees living in same-sex partnerships are granted the same benefits as heterosexual couples. And, Microsoft has also been socio-politically committed to the implementation of same-sex marriage in several countries. In Washington State, for instance, where Microsoft has its headquarters, the appropriate law has been adopted in 2012.

#Pride2017: We raise our flag on Christopher Street Day

Unfortunately, the acceptance of various lifestyles like homosexuality, transgender or bisexuality is still not something that can be taken for granted in Germany. The Eurobarometer survey of the EU Commission revealed in 2015: only every second German feels one hundred percent comfortable with LGBT team members. These figures do not fit into a modern and globally connected democracy, and are sending out the wrong signals for Germany as a business location which urgently needs more highly qualified people from different cultures to continue its positive development.

#MarriageEquality is a necessary step for Germany to ensure the country stays attractive to the best talents. But, it’s a long way to go still, before all prejudices have been overcome. We want to make our contributions as a company, but also as human beings.

That is why I am proud that our LGBT employee network GLEAM will, together with many colleagues, again commit themselves for the inclusion of the LGBT community – not only for those working at Microsoft – on July 15, 2017 on Christopher Street Day in Munich, and will raise the rainbow flag under the motto “Equal Rights”. Because every human being should have the same rights – including the right to marry.

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Sabine Bendiek
Chairwoman of the Management Board of Microsoft Deutschland GmbH