As an openly gay man and a member of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community we’ve a lot to celebrate this pride season. The Irish have voted to extend marriage to same-sex couples, Greenland too, and the US Supreme Court ruled last week that gay men and women’s right to marry is protected by the Constitution. These cultural and legal achievements are the culmination of decades of struggle by brave men and women, heroes like Harvey Milk, Edith Windsor, Bayard Rustin, David Norris, The Rt. Hon. the Lord Cashman (Michael Cashman) and so many, many more. These audacious and selfless individuals risked so much for the principle that LGBT people should not be punished or excluded by society for simply being who they are.
This principle may seem obvious in a world of pride parades and LGBT couples in the Vows section of the Sunday New York Times, but there’s still much work to be done. In the US, LGBT individuals can now legally marry in all 50 US states, but gay men and woman can be fired from their workplace in 29 states (the figure rises to 32 states for transgender people) simply for being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. A LGBT couple can get married, then fired when their wedding announcement is published in the local paper. And it’s still a shocking fact that whilst most LGBT are open and transparent about their sexuality at University, nearly 60% of those very same LGBT go back into the ‘closet’ when they enter the corporate world for fear their sexuality will be seen as a negative.
Exclusion is the principal cost of prejudice: being left out, kicked out, denied access, passed over, turned down, rejected. I know what it feels like. I’ve worked in technology and finance industries for my entire career and I can attest that it’s not easy to confront prejudice and hostility head-on. But it’s only by confronting it that we can overcome it. And it’s only by overcoming it that we can create the world that we all deserve. A world where we are all equal.
In addition to my role as President & Chief Executive Officer of Bitreserve, I’m honoured to serve as a board member of GLAAD (the United States’s largest LGBT media advocacy organization), a patron of Diversity Role Models (the United Kingdom-based education and anti-homophobic bullying charity), and Chair and Head Judge of the European Diversity Awards (recognising and celebrating those organisations and individuals that have shown innovation, creativity and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion). I’m committed to creating a world of equal rights for all people. Everywhere. Regardless of race, gender, ability or sexual orientation.
I joined Bitreserve to confront another kind of exclusion, one that’s highly prominent and impacts the daily lives of billions of people around the globe: financial exclusion. The indigent, immigrants, the working poor and minors are all either denied access to basic financial services or are forced to pay a disgustingly high price, penalized for their vulnerable economic status. Which is absolutely no fault of their own. The cause of financial exclusion is very different from the cause of the exclusion inflicted on the LGBT community, but it’s no less wrong. No less evil. Instead of ignorance, prejudice and fear, it’s driven by the greed of large and faceless institutions who choose fat margins over inclusion and fairness, increasingly powerful corporations who have no motivation to innovate because their traditional business models are so very profitable. Perhaps most distressing of all is that these companies actively seek out those members of society who can least afford it and charge them most. It’s both commercially and morally wrong.
Our Founder and Chairman’s vision for Bitreserve is to create a world where every networked device provides access to a cloud-based account that makes holding, moving, exchanging, and converting money and value as free, fast, and easy as email. I’m passionately committed to realizing that vision. A world where immigrants don’t pay outrageous costs to send money to their families back home, where there are no overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements, where young people are as savvy about managing their personal finances as they are their social media. A world where there are no more bank blow-ups or bailouts because Bitreserve’s real-time and verifiable transparency becomes the standard that regulators require of all financial institutions.
Up until very recently it was considered normal that LGBT couples in the US be denied their basic constitutional rights. Probably the most fundamental right of all. The right to love. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, those days are over in the US.
However, usurious payday loans, egregious overdraft fees, and outrageous remittance costs are still accepted as normal in the US. Around the world it’s considered perfectly expected that poor people don’t have access to bank accounts or basic financial services. Well, it’s high time for this “standard” status quo to be condemned as wrong and unacceptable, as wrong and unacceptable as racial, gender, or LGBT prejudice and disenfranchisement.
At Bitreserve, we don’t think people should be penalized or excluded just because they didn’t have the good luck of being born rich, or because they are struggling through challenging financial circumstances. We’re committed to overthrowing this unjust status quo by creating a global money system that is transparent, free, instant, accessible and fair for all, not just for those at the top.
We’re committed to creating the world where we are all equal, a world we all deserve.
Reach out to me anytime at @AnthonyWatson. I would love to hear your thoughts.