New Report released at Davos Says LGBT+ Inclusive Cities Have Economic Competitiveness

Cities that are LGBT+ inclusive have greater competitive advantages because they are open to new ideas, welcoming to people of different backgrounds and foster an environment that encourages the free flow of innovation, according to Open For Business, a coalition of 25 global companies making the case that inclusive, diverse societies are better for business and economic growth.

The Report, “Open For Business: Strengthening the Economic Case,” published at Accenture’s 4th Annual Davos LGBT breakfast and panel on 24th January, shows that LGBT+ inclusion goes hand-in-hand with economic performance and productivity in cities. Cities that are LGBT+ inclusive are better placed to develop their global competitiveness, have stronger innovation ecosystems and greater concentrations of skills and talent, and better quality of life. World Leaders too are currently meeting at Davos at the World Economic Forum.

The Report announces the Open For Business City Ratings, a guide to which global cities are open, progressive and competitive. The guide is the first that establishes a link between LGBT+ inclusion and economic competitiveness on a global scale. It should be used by individuals thinking about relocating to another city, businesses considering new operations or offices, policymakers seeking to boost the economic performance of their city and activists wanting to have better engagement with business.

Similar to credit ratings agencies, the ratings scheme—which is based on 23 different economic and social inclusion metrics—shows that cities can range from those that are “fully open for business” (tiers AAA to A), to cities that are “partially open for business” (tiers BBB to C), to finally those cities whose lack of openness presents political, social or personal risks (tiers DDD to E) metrics.

New York, London, Berlin, San Francisco, Stockholm and Washington, D.C. are among the most open for business cities around the world, while Cairo, Jeddah, Karachi, Lahore and Lagos are among the least. Five Indian cities, namely Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad are ranked as “partially open for business”, with Bangalore receiving the highest rating among these five cities.

Cities such as Medellin, Bangalore, Guadalajara and Ho Chi Minh City are some of the most surprising high-performers in terms of LGBT+ inclusiveness and economic prosperity (and are highlighted in the Report).

LGBT+ inclusive cities see a competitive advantage in three main areas:

  • Innovation – the capacity to foster innovation is a key driver of city competitiveness
  • Talent and Skills – cities with residents who have advanced education and high-level skills are better able to compete in today’s global economy
  • Quality of Living – providing a good quality of living is essential for cities seeking to compete on the world stage

The data in the report shows that the stronger the performance on LGBT+ inclusion, the more likely a city is to provide a favorable environment for innovation. Highly innovative cities such as New York, London, Tokyo and San Francisco are more LGBT+ inclusive, while the world’s least innovative cities such as Kinshasa, Khartoum, Luanda and Douala are not. Non-discrimination laws, the presence of strong “innovation ecosystems” (universities, research institutions and businesses) and the intermingling of people and ideas are characteristic of LGBT+ cities and higher levels of innovation.

The evidence also shows that LGBT+ inclusive cities are more likely to have residents with advanced education and high level skills and, as a result, are better able to compete in today’s global economy. Boston, Paris, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are among the cities with the highest levels of education and greatest levels of LGBT+ inclusion.

Finally, LGBT+ inclusive cities have the highest quality of living. The presence of a visible LGBT+ community may be taken as a signal that a city will be an attractive place, and providing a good quality of living is essential for cities seeking to compete. Cities that rank top of this measure include Sydney, Munich, Vienna and Zurich – all LGBT+ inclusive cities. Meanwhile, the cities with the lowest quality of living such as Port au Prince, Khartoum and Bangui are all LGBT+ unfriendly environments.

In addition to the focus on cities, the Report has also updated and strengthened the business and economic case for LGBT+ inclusion. In particular, the Report shows that:

  • LGBT+ discrimination often goes hand-in-hand with corrupt practices and a lack of openness: anti-LGBT+ countries tend to resist corruption efforts, while general hostility to LGBT+ groups signals a broader lack of transparency and openness within a country.
  • LGBT+ inclusive countries are more competitive and are characterized by strong institutions, infrastructure and public services and policies directed at promoting efficient markets and ease of doing business.
  • In aggregate, companies that are more LGBT+ inclusive have better share price performance, higher returns on equity, higher market valuations and stronger cash flows.

Open For Business is a coalition of 25 global companies making the case that inclusive, diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth. Thee coalition is comprised of the following companies: Accenture, American Express, AT&T, Barclays, BCG, Brunswick, Burberry, Deutsche Bank, EY, GSK, Google, IBM, Inditex, KPMG, LinkedIn, Linklaters, Mastercard, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, PwC, RELX Group, Standard Chartered, Tesco, Thomson Reuters, and Virgin. The purpose of the coalition is to advance LGBT+ inclusion globally, by promoting a positive economic and business case for equality of opportunity for everyone, all across the world.