TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Studies have shown that embracing diversity in the workplace and supporting LGBTQ rights is not just good for individuals, it is also good for business, and yesterday (Nov. 22), Taiwan News spoke to crowdfunding consultancy firm Backer-Founder about why they will be supporting marriage equality in Saturday’s referendums.
Taiwanese citizens will face a choice on Nov. 24 to support or deny equality, with five different referendums relating to equal marriage rights and the inclusion of LGBT-related issues in school curricula set to take place.
The support garnered for LGBTQ rights this time around among both the public and private entities has been unprecedented. Almost 140,000 attended the biggest-ever Taiwan LGBT Pride this year, and a reported 100,000 attended a final pre-referendum equal marriage demonstration on Nov. 18 at Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei.
Several union federations have come out in support of marriage equality, including the Association of Taiwan Journalists and the Taipei Bar Association, and in a historic move last week, 27 companies signed a joint declaration of support for LGBTQ rights in the upcoming referendums. Money has poured into the pro-equality campaign fund from determined local citizens and businesses, and even from LGBTQ organizations abroad.
Unfortunately for equal rights supporters, the anti-equality campaign has also gained a considerable backing, thanks in part to strong connections with global hate groups and the support of wealthy Christian church groups likely to be funding operations. The anti-equality campaign has met success through the spreading of misinformation and fake news about the passage of a same-sex marriage bill and LGBTQ education in schools acting as a gateway to bestiality, incest, and AIDS.
That is why it is important to companies such as Backer-Founder and other pro-equality organizations in Taiwan that people vote for a fairer world in Saturday’s referendums. Equal rights are not just good for the individual, but for business too.
Showing support for equal rights shows that a company cares about all of its employees and can lead to a better, more harmonious workplace environment, where people feel fully free to express their thoughts and ideas. Fear for safety in the workplace among LGBTQ people is not only hampering performance on the job, but actually preventing potential talent from entering certain industry sectors.
Backer-Founder, as a firm that mainly deals in the creative industry, relies on employees and clients feeling they have the space and safety to fully express themselves. The company’s CEO Tahan Lin (林大涵) spoke with Taiwan News about the upcoming referendums and the importance of diversity in the workplace.
Why did Backer-Founder decide to back the joint statement on LGBTQ equality?
Backer-Founder is a crowdfunding consultancy organization. Our job is to assist startup companies that have both big dreams and the ability to put them into practice by connecting them with other teams who hold similar ideas. Through mutual support and cooperation, we allow new businesses to realize their dreams.
Our guiding principle is: “Every dream deserves to be taken seriously.” At the most basic level, this means every person’s rights have an uncompromisable value. With this in mind, we at Backer-Founder have not only expressed our own assiduous support for equal marriage, but have used our strengths and resources to encourage others to do so, too.
On Oct. 31, we initiated a campaign to raise funds for pro-marriage equality advertising and checking for misinformation. We were able to exceed our initial goal before the deadline by raising NT$10 million (US$324,000), and aroused further support for the marriage equality referendum among the public.
How does Backer-Founder deal with LGBT discrimination within the company?
We are lucky to have had no reports of LGBT discrimination within the company so far. We cherish the diverse range of qualities and perspectives our employees bring to the table, and encourage each person to use their special strengths to see projects through. The decision to sign the marriage equality referendum support declaration was made by our employees of their own accord. They got together and contacted other employees spontaneously, encouraging one another to sign.
Why is it important to maintain a diverse workplace environment?
Crowdfunding is interesting because each project emerges from the unique ideas of one particular person or group, with the aim of making life better for a diverse range of people through an assorted range of practices. Respecting the value of diversity prevents killing off innovative energy at the most basic level.
Because of this, Backer-Founder places extreme importance on maintaining a free and diverse workplace environment. This means not only allowing employees space to freely express their own thoughts and ideas, but also respecting their unique characteristics and viewpoints. Internet marketing is a highly competitive field and requires a creative spark to catch the consumer’s attention. That creative spark can only come about if workers feel they have space to express themselves and develop their ideas.
Why should people vote in favor of marriage equality?
Out of all Asian countries, Taiwan is the one where people are most able to enjoy the values of freedom and democracy. The essence of the referendum is to allow citizens to express their opinions on public issues. Regardless of which side one supports, referendums are an important step in realizing true democracy.
With regards to marriage equality specifically, Backer-Founder believes if the upcoming referendum ensures equal marriage is enshrined into law, it will lead Taiwan to become a fairer and more harmonious place with greater respect for human rights. It will allow everyone to enjoy the joys and responsibilities that come with marriage, and the sacred values of family life, without facing discrimination and unequal treatment.
Backer-Founder is allowing all of its employees to work remotely the day before the referendum (Nov. 23) so that everyone has a chance to return home and vote.
Why do you believe LGBTQ education is important in schools?
The years spent in elementary and junior high school are an important time for children, where they come into contact with others of their own age and begin to encounter gender-related issues. Without appropriate, diversified gender education in schools, and assistance from families, children’s ideas about gender become negatively impacted by society, which encourages bullying, particularly against those perceived as “different.”
We believe the problem at the moment is not that parents do not want diversified gender education in schools, but that they have been hit by so much irrational, false information on gender identity and LGBTQ issues that it has become impossible to engage in a rational discussion and achieve consensus on the matter.
Heterosexuality, homosexuality, and a diverse range of gender traits and expressions are all things children will encounter in the school environment. If schools can provide children with a proper and correct understanding of these phenomena, they will not only learn to respect people different from themselves, but also accept themselves for who they are, different to others.
A total of 10 referendums go to public vote on Saturday Nov. 22, five of them related to marriage equality and LGBTQ education in schools. Organizations such as TAIWANIZE are offering free transport services for those unable to pay for travel tickets in order to encourage citizens to vote.