NATO Headquarters hosted its first-ever internal conference on LGBTQ+ perspectives in the workplace on Friday (19 March 2021). Organized by the staff-led “Proud @ NATO” volunteer group, the online event brought together around 130 participants across civilian and military staffs, as well as national delegations, to discuss the experiences and challenges of LGBTQ+ people at work.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed the conference on the importance of inclusive leadership, saying “every member of the LGBTQ+ community at NATO is a valued member of our staff and family, because diversity and inclusion is at the heart of who we are and what we do… drawing on all resources and all experiences makes us stronger, and better equipped to face the future.” The Secretary General also expanded on the concept of “allyship” in the workplace, defining allies as “people who do not identify as LGBTQ+ themselves, yet want to see a more inclusive world.” He added: “you will always have an ally in me.”
NATO is committed to diversity. Organisation policy strictly forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as sex, race or ethnic origin, religion, nationality, disability, or age. NATO was also a world leader in recognising same-sex marriage. The organisation extended equal spousal benefits to same-sex couples in July 2002, at a time when only one country in the world – the Netherlands – recognised same-sex marriage.