LGBT inclusion builds better businesses | OUTVisions for LGBT Professionals

LGBT inclusion builds better businesses

businesses everywhere are embracing inclusion

LGBT inclusion builds better businesses

For years now, LGBT people along with allies of the LGBT community, have been advocating for a world that is more accepting, diversified, and inclusive. Until recently, trying to gain inclusion has been an ongoing and highly frustrating battle – but this is finally changing. The arguments for and against LGBT inclusion is not just about values anymore. New arguments have moved the debate to encompass good business sense and economic policy, and for the first time in history LGBT rights have officially made the agenda at the World Economic Forum, (WEF).

This year in Davos, major global business are collaborating to share ideas and talk about best practices to make work environments and economies stronger. Using substantial evidence to show that economies thrive in the absence of discrimination, a strong case for LGBT rights has been established and is enabling them to influence change via full inclusion for LGBT people.

businesses are exceeding legislation

Globally, businesses are outpacing lawmakers by engaging the conviction that employees should be fairly rewarded for their hard work despite who they have relationships with or who they are as individuals. Businesses are partnering with advocacy groups and local LGBT chambers of commerce to host summits and raise LGBT-owned business profiles.

HRC, (Human Rights Campaign), announced the creation of a global coalition at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York City in 2015. The alliance is committed to taking LGBT workplace equality to a global level and is represented by a group of global businesses in response to anti-LGBT sentiments.

Named Open For Business, the coalition asserts that societies of an inclusive and diverse nature are better for business and the economy while societies assuming anti-LGBT policies run counter to good business and economic success. The Center for Talent Innovation published a report that first overviews the situation on a global level and then examines economic opportunities in relation to LGBT inclusion. It shows the economic opportunities associated with inclusion as well as outlines the risks to businesses operating in places where discrimination against LGBT is practiced. Want to read the report? It’s available for download at

how does embracing LGBT inclusion make a business competitive?

Businesses that counter LGBT discrimination gain a substantial competitive edge against those that don’t in three key ways:

1.Top, sought after talent seeks them and stays with them. 

LGBT employees want to work in an environment where they can just be themselves. No one wants to waste their energies hiding their authenticity. It’s exhausting and distracting and makes real engagement and honest participation nearly impossible. Like any non-LGBT person, people in the LGBT community hope to perform their job duties in a safe environment that provides satisfaction - but the appeal of inclusivity reaches beyond just LGBT persons. Supporters and advocates of LGBT communities also appreciate an LGBT inclusive work place. Allies are more likely to accept a position with a company that is supportive of its LGBT employees over one that is not. 

Being LGBT inclusive sets a friendly tone to the work place that resonates well with everyone. Even people who are neither ally nor enemy to the LGBT population prefer an environment that is relaxed and positive and non- discriminatory.  By achieving an inclusive environment, businesses can spend less time recruiting and training because potential candidates will find them and will be far more likely to remain an employee in the long-term. An LGBT inclusive work environment also pays off in productivity and employees are more likely to “go the extra mile” for company success. The bottom line is that implementing non-discrimination statements and codes of conduct makes a business stronger, smarter, and more innovative which translates into meeting the needs of consumers more efficiently. Businesses that ignore the need for LGBT inclusiveness runs the risk of losing brilliant talent to their competitors.

2.LGBT inclusive companies attract the business of loyal discerning consumers.

The published report called “Open For Business: the Economic and Business Case for LGB&T Inclusion” found that consumers have some pretty strong feelings about LGBT inclusiveness. The report revealed that approximately half would not be likely to buy coffee from a country abiding by anti-gay laws, nor would they be likely to go to a country on holiday that had anti-gay laws. Furthermore, with the global LGBT’s estimated buying power at $3.7 trillion, along with the global ally market, though not yet properly quantified, it is evident that these are not segments that companies can afford to overlook. In fact, some companies are tapping into these segments with great success, like American Express. 

In 2012 via their PRIDE network, AMEX launched a marketing campaign in the popular LGBT destination of Provincetown where they encouraged LGBT and ally customers to spend more at local businesses. The initiative was dubbed “Shop Small” and it successfully grew card spending by double digits. American Express has since expanded the campaign to ten other U.S. locations and are planning to further extend the campaign to Brighton in the UK. Essentially, any businesses or global leaders who dismiss LGBT equality do so at their own risk.

3.Driving market innovation through LGBT insights.

With LGBT consumers having such a significant buying power globally, it is highly beneficial to have employees who identify with the LGBT market. Having someone whose sexual orientation matches the LGBT market on their team can gain a lot of valuable end-user insight. LGBT team members can help a business secure a presence in the LGBT community by helping the marketing team craft campaigns that are relevant and in line with the target audience.

how can global companies become more LGBT inclusive?

CTI’s “Out in the World” report provides three models with different legal and cultural environments in mind for businesses to use when making the move toward LGBT inclusiveness:

  • The “When in Rome” model complies with the local laws and the norms of the business’ jurisdiction.
  • The “Embassy” model grants supports the enforcement of Pro-LGBT policies within their own walls, but it does not support a push for change in the community at large.
  • The “Advocate” model encourages change both within the work environment and within the wider community.

Companies can utilize models based on the jurisdictions in which each business is located. For example, a corporation with various locations may employ the “Embassy” model in a locale that welcomes inclusiveness legally, but is more hostile culturally.  On the other hand, in a locale where the legal acceptance is behind cultural acceptance, adopting the “Advocate” model may prove to be far more beneficial. Ultimately, if a private sector can make inclusion work within company walls, it can also set the stage for cultural change to achieve a society that encourages equality.

the take away.

The report makes it clear that LGBT inclusion breeds an environment of diversity and creativity, setting the stage for greater innovation and entrepreneurship. It also emphasizes the support for inclusion among LGBT consumers, allies, and even those who remain neutral but still choose to counter discriminatory behaviour in general. There is evidence that people, LGBT or not, recognize the value of LGBT inclusion and moreover, strongly desire to move away from discrimination.

In the corporate world, leaders are recognizing that in supporting their LGBT employees, clients, and consumers they are not only promoting justice, but they are achieving their bottom line. It’s a win-win for everyone.

The fight for LGBT inclusiveness is not just about human values and equality anymore. It has grown into a global interest in the likeness of economic well-being. Business leaders and the global population at large are acknowledging that LGBT inclusion is about bringing business sense and economic policy up to a new level.

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