WorldPride Copenhagen 2021 Re-Cap

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Workplace Inclusion Day August 18th was kicked off with an empowering speech by the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, Petra de Sutter, herself a member of the LGBTIQ+ community. With a keynote entitled “LGBTIQ Workplace Inclusion from the State level”, it really was a passionate call to action.

“We cannot be complacent, we must act!”

Petra de Sutter, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium

Michiel Kolman, Co-Chair of Workplace Pride felt that Workplace Inclusion day really shed light upon the fact that the “Workplace” is really at a tipping point as things are changing with younger generations coming in with fresh ideas about gender, gender identity, and sexual identity, etc.

“There was a very upbeat story today but at the same time, we do live in a world where it can be far more difficult for the LGBTIQ+ community”

Michiel Kolman, Co-Chair of Workplace Pride Foundation
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Michiel Kolman, Co-Chair of Workplace Pride

Michiel went on to note the interesting contrast and “tension” between the inner world of companies and organisations and the outer world with its political developments which aren’t always positive. All in all a great day with a highly engaged audience!


Ulf Hahnemam, CHRO of Maersk spoke about the journey his company has been on and how taking into account their LGBTIQ+ employees has totally changed their approach. Ulf gave a heartfelt speech touching on Maersk’s radical shift in philosophy and that Maersk has seen tangible improvements in employee efficiency and happiness as a direct result of this approach of embracing LGBTIQ+ inclusion in their workplaces around the globe.

Ulf Hahnemam, CHRO of Maersk

Bianca Nijhof, Co-Chair hosted a session about the ASEAN region and the difficulties faced there. Hanim Hamzah, based in Singapore, spoke about the state of legislation in 10 Asian countries and expressed how much work there is still left to do. The international panel looked at ways to collaborate,  convince and work with governments in these countries to enable deeper progress towards inclusion of the LGBTIQ+ community there.

Bianca Nijhof, Co-Chair of Workplace Pride

“With all the polarization, taking the younger generation onboard is key. Education between generations is important and certainly, educating allies is a vital part of raising awareness”

Bianca Nijhof, Co-Chair of Workplace Pride

With six concurrent breakout sessions in the morning, each “sphere” used an innovative system where speakers spoke via microphones using wireless technology. The audience, wearing wireless headphones, heard the presentation whilst following projector slides. This minimized distraction from neighboring sessions and kept each breakout audience focused on the content only they could hear. The conference hall was filled with silence and concentration!


Ali Buck, a member of the Young@Workplace Pride program presented a session on allyship within the LGBTIQ+ community from the youth perspective.

Ali Buck, a member of the Young@WorkplacePride

“56% of people within generation “Z” in the LGBTIQ+ community identify as trans or non-binary which is statistically a massive increase over previous generations”

Ali Buck
A Member of the Young@WorkplacePride

For Ali’s employer in the USA, these findings have influenced the policies they create to recruit, attract and retain young talent. This is something that other employers should consider for their office spaces as employees return to office-based employment again. Despite all the upheaval that COVID has brought, we have phenomenal opportunities to examine current and future workplace policies around LGBTIQ+ inclusion and diversity and how were share our workspaces.

A key moment for Workplace Pride at the conference was the pre-launch of a white paper on corporate advocacy via a sphere session presented by David Pollard, Exec. Director of Workplace Pride, Dr. Felicity Daly and Marijn Pijnenburg of IBM. The paper examines how corporations can have a significant impact on governments when it comes to influencing LGBTIQ+ legislation around the world. The final launching of the paper will take place this fall. 

With 12 interactive sphere sessions throughout the day, presentations and panel sessions plus live speakers dialing in from as far away as Asia, Africa and Latin America Workplace Inclusion Day at World Pride Copenhagen was as intense as it was inspiring!

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