Gay marriage makes good business sense, former BP chief executive Lord Browne wrote in the Financial Times, as the Lords prepare to debate the bill passed in the Commons last month allowing same sex couples to marry.
“I am a businessman, and the institution of marriage is not something on which business usually takes a stance. But during my years in business, and particularly as chief executive of BP, I came to realise that anything that fosters an inclusive environment makes good business sense,” Browne wrote.
He argues that giving gay couples the freedom to marry signals inclusiveness, make them happier and more productive. “If that freedom helps gay people to be themselves in both their private and professional lives, it will eliminate one more barrier to a true corporate meritocracy and deserves recognition as a matter of strategic importance in the global market for talent.”
Browne resigned from BP in 2007 after losing a battle to suppress media attention on his homosexuality. He said he had been raised in a climate of fear, which made him unwilling to be honest about his sexuality. “If I had seen gay men in loving, stable and legally recognised public relationships of the sort my parents were in, I would have found it easier to come out. Civil partnerships perform this function up to a point, but they are not equal to marriage.” He said also that the oil industry was a particularly homophobic environment.
Today (Monday), the Lords will discuss a bill extending the right to marry to homosexual couples in the UK. Some 86 peers are due to speak in the debate with a final vote on Tuesday. Browne said he will be in the chamber to support it for business reasons; because homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society; and because of his personal experience.