September 26, 2007

Businesses Becoming More Gay Affirming, And GLBT Community Rewards Them

Big businesses are continuing to realize that supporting quality GLBT employees is, well, good business. This from the Human Rights Campaign's latest Corporate Equality Index:

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation today released the sixth annual Corporate Equality Index showing an unprecedented 195 major U.S. businesses earned the top rating of 100 percent, up from 138 last year – a 41 percent increase. The Index rates employers on a scale from 0 to 100 percent on their treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors. The 195 businesses that met all of the criteria employ more than 8.3 million workers. When the Index was first released in 2002 only 13 companies, employing 690,000 workers, received the top rating.

"More businesses than ever before have recognized the value of a diverse and dedicated workforce," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "More importantly, these employers understand that discrimination against GLBT workers will ultimately hurt their ability to compete in the global marketplace."

This is a very encouraging trend, but still far short of being able to leave companies to their own devices, which is why the Enployee Non-Discrimination Act needs to be passed by Congress.

In a somewhat related story, gay men and lesbians are responding to companies with anti-gay policies in the most effective way they can--by taking their business elsewhere. From

Seven in ten gay men and lesbians have switched products or service providers because they learned the company engaged in negative actions toward the LGBT community a poll released Monday shows.

In addition, the survey by Harris Interactive in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications found that over the past 12 months about one in four members of the LGBT community switched products or service providers because they found a competing company that supports causes that benefit the LGBT community.

Gay men were more likely to switch. The survey found that a third of those polled online said they had switched because they found a competing company that supports LGBT causes.

The survey also found that a high proportion of gay men and lesbians (70%) had switched products or service providers because they learned the company engaged in actions that are perceived as harmful to the LGBT community.

The most effective way to get someone's attention in the business world is to hit them in the pocketbook, rewarding positive corporate practices and punishing negative ones. Right-wing organizations hold press conferences and send endless e-mail blasts to boycot companies that are not bigoted enough for them, but a grass roots change in purchasing behavior, although not trumpeted by sympathetic media, is still heard loud and clear and I believe is more effective in bringing about change.

This proves again that you don't need to bring attention to yourself, like the AFA relishes doing, to draw attention to your cause.

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