Everyone’s talking about “The Great Reset”: The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos is pursuing plans to reshape the world in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. These ideas are controversially discussed. It is rarely noticed that LGBT interest groups also seem to play an important role in this process.
What is the “Great Reset”?
In a virtual conference in May 2020, the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, announced the start of “The Great Reset” project. He was accompanied by Prince Charles from the United Kingdom, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and International Monetary Fund Director Kristalina Georgieva. The Covid-19 crisis would offer the opportunity for a “great reset” to “build a new social contract” and “restore a functioning system of smart global cooperation,” Schwab says.
In their widely acclaimed book “COVID-19: The Great Reset”, Schwab and Thierry Malleret add that with “the economic emergency responses to the pandemic now in place, the opportunity can be seized to make the kind of institutional changes and policy choices that will put economies on a new path towards a fairer, greener future” (p. 57).
The global elites in Davos
The importance of Klaus Schwab and the WEF should not be underestimated. At the annual meeting in Davos in Switzerland, the global elites from politics, business, and media come together. Schwab’s ideas presented in his book are highly influential, whether one agrees with him or not. For example, at this year’s World Economic Forum, which took place as a virtual conference, Angela Merkel also declared her support for the “Great Reset.”
The German chancellor emphasized: “When we look at what the pandemic has done to us, my conclusion is that it can be seen as a confirmation of everything that has always been the spirit of Davos in recent years. The questions that were discussed there were the right ones.” Similarly, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised in her speech: “Klaus, thanks to your initiative ‘The Great Reset’, the World Economic Forum is asking the right questions again this year. We must learn from this crisis.”
More than just economics
Let’s leave aside the political and economic questions: One might wonder, why the LGBT issue plays such an important role in the “spirit of Davos”. Supposedly the “Great Reset” is to be about more than just economic reforms. It seems to be that also the LGBT issue belongs to Schwab’s vision of a new start. He himself links the “Great Reset” to this topic:
In the book “COVID-19: The Great Reset”, he says that global youth activism is taking up “issues as diverse as climate change, economic reforms, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights”. It will be “the catalyst for change and a source of critical momentum for the Great Reset” (p. 102).
Supporting LGBT demands
Taking a closer look, this statement of Schwab is not particularly surprising. The WEF, founded in 1971, has been connected with the international LGBT lobby for years. On the WEF website, there are numerous articles in the LGBTI Inclusion category. They are often written by representatives of LGBT groups such as ILGA World, Human Rights Campaign, or OutRight Action International. Employees of the LGBT network Open For Business are also among the authors. Numerous corporations such as Deutsche Bank, KPMG, Facebook, Google, or IKEA belong to them. Likewise, a senior employee of the auditing company Deloitte, who is responsible for the development of “global inclusion strategies” and “LGBT+ diversity,” as well as an “LGBT editor” of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The thematic range of the articles is wide: The authors explain why LGBT characters are underrepresented on US television. Apparently, the Covid-19 crisis in particular has increased alleged discrimination against LGBT people. Davos participants give young people advice for their coming out. They even recommend LGBT youth books. A businesswoman tells how attending the WEF would have helped her better support her eleven-year-old “transgender child”. Articles praise government funding for puberty blockers for minors. They call for paid parental leave for “rainbow families” and investment in LGBT youth services, too.
The target group of most articles is companies, which are told why “LGBT-friendly” cities and companies are more innovative and attract more “global talent”. They should cooperate with local LGBT activists and fund LGBT lobby groups. Companies even should exert LGBT influence on politics and society by themselves. Under the catchphrase “Great Reset” an author claims that cities with high “LGBT inclusion” would recover better from the economic damage of the Covid-19 crisis.
New powerful networks
But the World Economic Forum’s influence is not limited to these publications: The WEF also helps LGBT interest groups to network with politicians and entrepreneurs at the forum in Davos. In January 2020 the WEF held two rounds of talks entitled “Free to Be (LGBTI)” and “LGBTI Rights and the Role of the Private Sector” with representatives of the media, companies, universities, and LGBT groups.
At the previous year’s forum, Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, CISCO, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, EY, Edelman, Johnson & Johnson, Mastercard, Microsoft, P&G, PwC, Salesforce, and Scotiabank formed a Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality. Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, supports the initiative.
Until now, the initiative has won over hundreds of companies worldwide to implement the United Nations LGBTI Standards of Conduct. With this, the companies promise to establish internal LGBT networks, support the LGBT lobby, and publicly stand up for LGBT rights. Supporters include Airbnb, Airbus, Allianz, Calvin Klein, Daimler, Deutsche Post, Telekom, Facebook, eBay, Google, H&M, Nike, Netflix, PayPal, Pfizer, Siemens, Spotify, Uber, and many more.
As these examples show, the WEF functions as an important platform for networking global actors from politics, business, media, universities, and the LGBT lobby. This raises the question: if this obviously political role of the WEF outplays the common legislative institutions such as parliaments. A public debate about the risks of extensive decisions being made by non-elected players in nontransparent networks is necessary, especially if these decisions might have an influence on the life of citizens and families.