Fabrice Houdart: proud to make LGBTQ+ inclusion the norm

Ladder works is a publishing platform for various picture books and an online program whose mission is to empower more than one million children to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features our interplanetary journalist

Ladder works is a publishing platform for various picture books and an online program whose mission is to empower more than one million children to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features our interplanetary journalist Spiffy’s interviews with inspiring social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders advancing the UN SDGs.

Spiffy here with the inside scoop on planet earth’s business leaders. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I am delighted to present this galactic exclusive with Fabrice Houdart, the executive director and founder of the Association of LGBTQ+ Corporate Directors. Let’s find out what’s going on there and how Fabrice has a positive impact in the world.

Nice : Hello Fabrice, thank you so much for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is the Association of LGBTQ+ Corporate Directors tackling?

Fabrice: Thanks for inviting me, Spiffy! We work to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people are better represented on the boards of American companies. A board of directors is a group of people appointed as representatives of a company’s shareholders so that they can make decisions on their behalf. Our association currently estimates that LGBTQ+ people hold only 0.6% of Fortune 500 company board seats, while LGBTQ+ people far outnumber that. According to estimates, the LGBTQ+ population represents 5.7% to 7% of society. In 2022, this disparity must change, and that is what we are working to solve together.

Nice : What motivated you to do it?

Fabrice: My commitment to social justice and a more equitable society began with my own experience of discrimination. I was born in Paris in 1978. Being born white, male, French and into a wealthy family was a bit like winning the lottery. Because I was born with such privilege, discrimination surprised me when I experienced it after coming out in 2001 as gay. This upset me – perhaps more than others – because I did not expect it. To be able to get out, I left my family, my community and my country behind. I also had to create a new character from scratch. I often feel like nothing about me was real or truthful until I came out at 22. This moment awakened in me the desire to fight for justice and fairness. It has colored my whole life.

Nice : This world is more special with people like you! Thank you for sharing this with pride. What is the impact of your work?

Fabrice: LGBTQ+ people want to appear resilient rather than victims. Yet what is done to them early in life is not trivial and often affects the rest of their life, including their professional life. At an early age, many LGBTQ+ people have to lie to the people they should trust the most and love the most: their parents, teachers, and religious leaders, among others. It affects our ability to connect later in life. So businesses have a role to play in creating a level playing field to ensure that we have a chance for dignity and opportunity. When people ask, “Why do you celebrate Pride Month every year? Isn’t that a bit too much?” I reply, “Pride is the daily medicine I have to take to overcome the burden of shame I have carried since childhood.”

Nice : Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative of the organization. What impact does it have?

Fabrice: On September 12, we gathered people at JPMorgan in New York. These included fifty of the most influential LGBTQ+ people in business, as well as representatives from other organizations linked to boards of directors (such as the Nasdaq). The idea is to say that we must rise and help each other to succeed. This is the only way to bridge the representation gap on corporate boards. This is much needed because, in these rooms, important decisions are made that ultimately affect LGBTQ+ people as much as straight people. We should be in the room. We will get there.

Nice : Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience?

Fabrice: Now is the time to get involved. When I started working on social issues in 2011, I never imagined it would take such a prominent place in my life, first at the World Bank, then at the UN, and now across the world. ‘Association. I learned a lot and met amazing people. However, our journey is far from over. When you look at racism in the United States, it took the form of slavery, then Jim Crow, and now mass incarceration and police brutality. The #MeToo movement shows that gender equality is far from being achieved. I want LGBTQ+ people to use their influence better as employees, consumers and investors. There are many ways to participate in these efforts. In addition to my work, I volunteer on the boards of seven nonprofits, including IDAHOBIT, Outright, HousingWorks, TransNewYork, and Witness to Mass Incarceration.

Nice : Thank you for talking to me today, Fabrice, it was an honor!

Fabrice Houdart is the managing director of the new company Association of LGBTQ+ Corporate Directors. Fabrice is a member of L’Oréal’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and consults with many Fortune 500 companies. He sits on the editorial board of the Women’s Forum. He volunteers on the boards of seven non-profit organizations working on issues such as homelessness, reintegration or LGBTQ+ inclusion. (Nominated by Allyn Shaw. First published on the Ladderworks website September 30, 2022.)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jason “Jackson” Block. Spiffy artwork by Shreyas Navarre. For the Ladderworks Digital Curriculum to help children in K-3 advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy’s Corner here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.