Bayer leverages open doors to encourage coming out

On the occasion of Coming Out Day, global life science giant Bayer launched a video speaking about the dynamics of opening doors. It includes a statement of support for Coming Out Day and an encouragement to open up for conversations.

One comment on Bayer’s Facebook page rightfully asked if the image of ‘opening doors’ was an intentional reference to the closet door that needs to be opened to (literally) come of the closet. There is actually no context information given along with the video post that Bayer made on Coming Out Day (11 October) on their Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube pages.

A powerful message to everyone

“When a door is closed it’s harder for employees to share anything. Doesn’t matter if it’s a great idea, or a secret someone has been walking around with for days, months or their entire life.” With these powerful words, Bayer’s coming out video starts out and at the same time lays the foundation for a business case for an inclusive work environment. For “only an open and safe environment allows people to contribute fully and genuinely, with all their skills and all their personality”, Diversity expert Michael Stuber comments. He sees particular strength in the video’s message that it is first and foremost the dominant group in a corporate culture that has the responsibility to provide a culture that encourages LGBT people to be as open about their sexual orientation or identity as straight men and women are (e.g. when sharing weekend or family activities).

Public support is strong support

Public messages about LGBT are much less frequent than about gender, intercultural or inter-generational aspects of Diversity. If they occur, they are often taking a stand against homo- or transphobia, against discrimination or social exclusion. Specific corporate messages supporting coming out at work are much less prevalent. And yet, Bayer goes one step further. Their pledge that ‘the open door policy should change’ and ‘making it an open and safe environment for everyone, LGBT included’ shows a holistic ambition. Their believe that ‘by opening your door, you open the conversation’ could and probably should be understood as a mandate for all employees, i.e. including the straight majority, to signal openness in regards to different sexual orientations and identities.

Reactions on Facebook

Similar to an LGBT inclusive move of German insurance company ARAG, the video received not as much attention as one could have expected. 180 shares and 53 comments (within 14 days) nowadays do not represent large numbers. Interestingly, a few comments referred to the question whether LGBT or straight people were the main target group of the video. This vagueness has often been described as a powerful fine line in LGBT (marketing) communication. Regardless, all explicit comments were positive about the video, its approach and its implementation.

You can watch it here.