28 MAY 2019

Being True to Yourself is Good for Business

In Taiwan, a law legalizing same-sex marriage went into effect last week. The bill was the first in Asia, and was approved by Taiwan’s legislature on Friday, May 17, which was also the annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (or IDAHOT).

This came two years after Taiwan’s constitutional court struck down their Civil Code’s definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman, ruling that same-sex marriage was legal and setting a deadline for the legislature to amend the law within two years. The law passed with one week to spare.

Frank Chen, an executive director in Goldman Sachs' Investment Banking Division, and Andy Tsai, an associate in the Securities Division, have been active in the broader marriage equality effort in the past two years. Within the firm's Taipei office, they led the petition drive for the marriage equality referendum, and more than 80 percent of their colleagues signed up within two days.

Frank focused on raising awareness of the campaign and the issues at stake for colleagues both in the Taipei office and globally. That led to donations from colleagues across a number of the firm’s offices globally to local NGO Equal Love, which focuses on educating the public about the marriage equality issue and clarifying misinformation and misunderstandings.

In his role within Investment Banking, Frank has found that clients who are supportive of marriage equality have shared that they admire the firm’s efforts on this front, and more recently, he credits being openly LGBT with helping him secure a mandate from a company that hasn’t traditionally done business with Goldman Sachs.

“I am able to connect with likeminded clients beyond just transactions, and build a lasting relationship – being true to yourself is good for business, and it has actually helped me become more commercial,” Frank said. “I have received strong support from the firm and my managers since coming out at work.”

More recently, Andy has also been in discussion with the US-based National LGBT Chamber of Commerce to establish an Asian chapter. As part of the working group, he has been in contact with other potential corporate members, with the ultimate goal of introducing a third-party certification body to verify that eligible businesses are majority-owned by LGBT individuals. Andy has also been more broadly focused on working with other multinational financial services firms in Taiwan and strengthening the ties among LGBT-friendly corporations, including by petitioning other banks to show their support for the marriage equality cause.

The firm’s Taipei office has also been a key presence in the local LGBT pride parade, which is the largest in Asia, for the past decade. More than 80 percent of the firm’s Taipei employees and their family and friends join each year.

In Asia, Pride month is recognized every November. This year, there will be one more thing to celebrate.