As Pride Month unfolds, it is essential for businesses to reflect on their commitment to diversity and inclusion and explore ways to create a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ employees. Pride Month is a time to celebrate the progress made in LGBTQIA+ rights, acknowledge the ongoing struggles, and unite in support of equal rights and acceptance. It is also the perfect time for individuals to learn about the history of Pride Month, the trials and tribulations of LGBTQIA+ individuals, and how to be an effective ally.
The History of LGBTQIA+ Rights and Pride Month
December 10, 1924 - Henry Gerber founds the first gay rights organization in America, The Society for Human Rights. The organization was forced to disband due to political pressure soon after its founding.
April 27, 1953 - Then President Dwight Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450, which banned homosexuals from working for the federal government or any of its private contractors.
August 30, 1956 - American psychologist Evelyn Hooker's presents research concluding that homosexuality is not a clinical entity or mental illness and that heterosexuals and homosexuals do not differ significantly at a clinical level. Hooker's experiment was very influential and changed clinical perceptions of homosexuality.
January 13, 1958 - This was the first time the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay rights (One, Inc. v. Olesen).
June 28, 1969 - Stonewall Uprising: a police raid took place at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City's Greenwich Village. The patrons, who had long endured police harassment and discrimination, resisted the raid, leading to several days of protests, demonstrations, and clashes with law enforcement. The Stonewall Uprising is widely regarded as a turning point in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights and liberation.
Early Pride Demonstrations: In the years following the Stonewall Uprising, LGBTQIA+ activists organized demonstrations and marches to commemorate the event. These early events were known as Christopher Street Liberation Day marches, named after the street where the Stonewall Inn is located. The marches aimed to promote visibility, protest against discrimination, and advocate for equal rights for LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Growth and Expansion: The initial Pride marches in New York City inspired similar events in other cities across the United States and around the world. As the LGBTQIA+ rights movement gained momentum, Pride parades became a symbol of unity, resilience, and celebration of the diverse identities within the community.
1999 - Official Recognition of Pride Month: In the United States, the month of June was officially recognized as Pride Month in 1999, when President Bill Clinton declared it to honor the Stonewall Uprising's significance. Since then, Pride Month has become an annual observance that celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community's accomplishments, highlights ongoing struggles, and promotes inclusivity and equality.
Worldwide Observance: Pride Month has transcended national borders and is now celebrated globally. LGBTQIA+ communities and allies come together to organize Pride parades, rallies, festivals, and various events that promote LGBTQIA+ visibility, educate the public, and advocate for equal rights and social acceptance.
Pride Month has evolved from its roots in protest and resistance to become a time for celebration, remembrance, and continued activism. It serves as a platform to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community, promote acceptance, and work towards a more inclusive society.
Additional resources on LGBTQIA+ history, timelines, and milestones:
Queer History by Christina B. Hanhardt, Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park
A brief history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender social movements from the American Psychological Association
Notable figures in the history of LGBTQIA+ pride (a non-comprehensive list):
Marsha P. Johnson: Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender woman of color, was a prominent figure in the Stonewall Uprising. She was a tireless advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and co-founded the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an organization that provided support for homeless LGBTQIA+ youth.
Sylvia Rivera: Sylvia Rivera, another key figure in the Stonewall Uprising, was a transgender activist and co-founder of STAR alongside Marsha P. Johnson. She dedicated her life to advocating for the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, especially those from marginalized communities.
Harvey Milk: Harvey Milk was an openly gay politician and activist who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk fought for LGBTQIA+ rights and visibility until his tragic assassination in 1978.
Audre Lorde: Audre Lorde was a celebrated writer, poet, and feminist activist who made significant contributions to the LGBTQIA+ movement. Her writings on intersectionality and embracing one's identity have been influential in shaping feminist and LGBTQIA+ discourse.
Gilbert Baker: Gilbert Baker was an artist and LGBTQIA+ rights activist who is best known for creating the iconic rainbow flag in 1978. The flag has since become an internationally recognized symbol of LGBTQIA+ pride and solidarity.
Bayard Rustin: Bayard Rustin was a civil rights activist who played a vital role in the organization of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Rustin was openly gay, and his activism extended to fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights and advocating for nonviolent resistance.
Laverne Cox: Laverne Cox is an actress, producer, and transgender rights advocate. She is known for her groundbreaking role in the television series "Orange Is the New Black" and has been an outspoken advocate for transgender rights, intersectionality, and inclusion.
Dan Levy: Dan Levy is an actor, writer, and LGBTQ+ activist. He co-created and starred in the acclaimed television series "Schitt's Creek," which garnered attention for its positive representation of LGBTQ+ characters and storylines. Levy has used his platform to raise awareness and support various LGBTQ+ causes.
Megan Rapinoe: Megan Rapinoe is a professional soccer player and LGBTQ+ advocate. She is an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and has used her platform as an athlete to advocate for equality and inclusivity, both on and off the field.
George Takei: George Takei is an actor, author, and LGBTQ+ activist. He is best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the original "Star Trek" series. Takei has been a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and has been involved in various social justice initiatives, including marriage equality.
RuPaul: Born RuPaul Andre Charles, is a drag queen, singer, television personality, and LGBTQ+ icon. He gained international fame as the host and executive producer of the reality competition series "RuPaul's Drag Race," which has become a cultural phenomenon. RuPaul has been a trailblazer for the drag community and has played a pivotal role in bringing drag culture into the mainstream.
These individuals, among many others, have made invaluable contributions to the LGBTQIA+ rights movement and have helped pave the way for progress and acceptance. Their dedication, resilience, and advocacy have had a lasting impact on the fight for equality and the celebration of Pride Month.
The current state of LGBTQIA+ Rights and Safety:
In recent years, there has been a concerning rise in the number of anti-LGBTQIA+ bills introduced across various states in the United States. These bills often seek to limit or roll back the rights and protections of LGBTQIA+ individuals. While the specifics of these bills can vary, they generally fall into several categories:
Bathroom Bills: Some bills aim to restrict transgender individuals' access to public restrooms and facilities that align with their gender identity. These bills perpetuate harmful stereotypes and contribute to the stigmatization and discrimination of transgender people.
Religious Exemption Bills: These bills often provide exemptions to businesses, service providers, or healthcare professionals based on religious beliefs, allowing them to deny services or discriminate against LGBTQIA+ individuals. These exemptions can infringe upon the rights and equal treatment of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Conversion Therapy Bans: Conversion therapy aims to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity through harmful and discredited practices. Many states have taken steps to ban conversion therapy; however, there are still efforts to prevent these bans or create loopholes that allow such practices to persist.
Adoption and Foster Care Restrictions: Some bills target LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples, seeking to restrict their ability to adopt or serve as foster parents. These bills undermine the best interests of children and deny loving homes to those in need.
Year-to-Date Snapshot: 2023 Anti-LGBTQ+ State Legislative Activity
Over 540 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, a record;
Over 220 bills specifically target transgender and non-binary people, also a record; and
45 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted so far this year, including:
Laws banning gender affirming care for transgender youth: 13
Laws requiring or allowing misgendering of transgender students: 3
Laws targeting drag performances: 2
Laws creating a license to discriminate: 3
Laws censoring school curriculum, including books: 2
Notable 2023 Trends & Top Line Analysis
There have been more anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state houses this year than in each of the previous five years; with the increase in LGBTQ+ erasure bills, bills that strip away dozens of legal protections and rights for LGBTQ+ people, coming as the newest form of attacks on the community.
More than 125 bills would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care, in addition to more than 45 bills banning transgender students from playing school sports and more than 30 “bathroom bills,” a figure that exceeds the number bathroom bills filed in any previous year.
The states that have been the most proactive in advancing anti-LGBTQ+ laws include Florida, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
These bills, and others like them, pose significant threats to the progress made in LGBTQIA+ rights and equality. They perpetuate discrimination, contribute to a hostile environment, and harm the well-being and dignity of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
It is important to note that these bills are not representative of the views of the entire population or the trajectory of progress. Many people and organizations are actively opposing these bills and advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights and protections. Grassroots movements, legal challenges, and public awareness efforts continue to fight against discrimination and strive for full equality for all.
In response to these challenges, it is crucial for allies, organizations, and individuals to stand together in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, advocating for inclusive laws and policies, and promoting acceptance and equality for all.
Where do individuals and corporations sit?
A May 2022 Gallup poll found that a strong majority of 71% of Americans believe gay and lesbian relations are “morally acceptable,” versus 25% who say they’re “morally wrong.”
The same poll from Gallup found that 71% of Americans support same-sex marriage, a record high in its polling. A Pew Research poll conducted in October 2022 found that 61% of respondents support same-sex marriage.
Support for same-sex marriage has grown rapidly over the last few decades. 1996, when Gallup began polling, support for legalizing same-sex marriage was only at 27%. This number reached a majority in 2011, and rose to 60% in 2015 when the Supreme Court declared it legal in Obergefell v. Hodges.
80% of Americans support laws forbidding LGBTQ discrimination in situations like jobs, public accommodations and housing, according to PRRI’s 2022 polling (up from 71% in 2015). The support group includes 66% of Republicans and at least 50% support among all major religious demographics.
In October 2022, a Pew poll determined that K-12 parents were split 31% to 31% on whether students should be taught that gender is determined by sex at birth or not. 37% of respondents stated that the topic shouldn’t be taught at all. A concurrent Times/Siena poll found that the majority of Americans were opposed to classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary and middle school (with 70% and 54% of people opposing, respectively), but 56% of people were in favor of those topics being taught in high school.
More on How Americans Really Feel About LGBTQ Issues from Forbes.
In the corporate space, some organizations are standing their ground and showing their support for LGBTQIA+ individuals regardless of threats from politicians and boycotters.
It's important to note that despite this very public fight with DeSantis, Disney has given money to every single sponsor and co-sponsor of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as reported by The Orlando Sentinel and IndieWire (2022).
Fortune: Big companies, from PepsiCo to General Motors, are still supporting Pride.
Marketing Lessons: Avoid Bud Light's Massive Hangover: Columbus-based PR firm Geben Communication expertly addresses the issue with BudLight's approach to allyship and marketing.
Our favorite insight? "Before values are leveraged for advertising, brands need to do the hard work internally to gain alignment – all the way up to the highest levels of leadership. They need to agree on the potential tradeoffs and if they’re willing to alienate consumers who disagree with those values."
Repercussions & Legacy: Anti-LGBTQ backlash against Bud Light and Target could affect how other brands honor Pride Month
How To Be An Ally To The LGBTQIA+ Community:
Listen and Learn: Practice active listening and engage in meaningful conversations with LGBTQ+ individuals. Be open to learning from their experiences and perspectives, and respect their voices and identities without making assumptions.
Use Inclusive Language: Be mindful of the language you use and avoid derogatory or offensive terms. Use gender-neutral language when appropriate and respect individuals' chosen names and pronouns. If you are unsure about someone's pronouns, politely ask or use gender-neutral pronouns like "they/them" until you receive clarification.
Support LGBTQ+ Events and Organizations: Attend LGBTQ+ events, Pride parades, and community gatherings to show your support and solidarity. Donate to or volunteer with LGBTQ+ organizations that advocate for equality, provide support services, or promote inclusive environments.
Vote With Your Dollar: Although major corporations and brands often try to capitalize on Pride Month by offering rainbow-themed products, the profits generated from these ventures often do not benefit LGBTQ+-owned businesses or individuals. Instead of buying Pride / LGBTQIA+ themed items from Walmart or Target, a more impactful approach is to actively seek out and financially support queer-owned businesses and charities, not just during Pride Month but throughout the year. By directing our financial resources towards these organizations, we can make a tangible difference and ensure that our support reaches those who truly need it.
LGBTQIA+ Owned Shops & Stores to support:
29 LGBTQ+-Owned Businesses to Support from Readers Digest
LGBTQ+-Owned Shops on Etsy
21 Queer-Owned Businesses To Support from USAToday Reviewed
25 LGBTQ+-Owned Brands to Shop and Support from RealSimple
30 Great LGBTQ+-Owned Restaurants To Visit In The US by Tasting Table
LGBTQ+-Owned Businesses in Ohio from Ohio.org
LGBTQ+-Owned Local Businesses in Columbus, Ohio from Experience Columbus
Stand Up Against Discrimination: Challenge and speak out against homophobic, transphobic, or discriminatory comments, jokes, or actions. Be an active bystander by intervening when you witness harassment or discrimination and creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Support LGBTQ+ Youth: LGBTQ+ youth often face higher rates of bullying and mental health challenges. Offer your support to LGBTQ+ youth in your life by providing a safe and accepting environment, being a trusted confidant, and connecting them with resources and support networks.
Advocate for LGBTQ+ Rights: Write to your elected representatives, support policies and legislation that promote equality and protection for LGBTQ+ individuals, and participate in advocacy campaigns or protests. Use your voice to promote inclusivity and challenge discriminatory practices.
Recognize Intersectionality: Understand that LGBTQ+ individuals can also face other forms of discrimination and oppression based on their race, ethnicity, religion, disability, or other identities. Acknowledge and support the intersectional experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Reflect on Your Privilege: Recognize your own privilege and how it may affect your understanding of LGBTQ+ experiences. Use your privilege to uplift marginalized voices and work towards dismantling systemic inequalities.
Amplify LGBTQ+ Voices: Use your platform, whether it's social media, your workplace, or your community, to amplify LGBTQ+ voices and stories. Share articles, resources, and personal narratives to raise awareness and foster understanding among others.
"The Trans Visibility project has helped spread awareness and provide space for the Trans and non-binary community. It brought families, friends, chosen families, and new connections to and within the community. The success of the Trans Visibility Gallery in 2021 allowed us to raise $6,000 in donations to help fund the project as well as provide a donation of $725.16 to one of the participants."
Educate Yourself: Take the initiative to educate yourself about LGBTQ+ identities, terminology, history, and issues. Read books, articles, and resources written by LGBTQ+ authors and activists to gain a deeper understanding of the community's experiences and challenges. Centering LGBTQIA+ stories and experiences promotes representation, educates, empowers, and drives advocacy for equal rights and acceptance. By elevating these narratives, we create a more inclusive, empathetic, and supportive society for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Nancy" - Hosted by Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, this podcast explores LGBTQ+ stories and experiences, delving into personal narratives, pop culture, and important conversations within the community.
"Queery" - Hosted by comedian Cameron Esposito, this podcast features in-depth and intimate interviews with prominent LGBTQ+ individuals, discussing their personal journeys, identities, and experiences.
"Making Gay History" - Hosted by Eric Marcus, this podcast dives into LGBTQ+ history, featuring archival interviews and stories from activists, community leaders, and trailblazers who have shaped the movement.
"The Read" - Hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle West, this popular podcast discusses pop culture, news, and current events from a Black queer perspective, with humor and candid commentary.
"Food 4 Thot" - Hosted by Tommy Pico, Fran Tirado, Dennis Norris II, and Joseph Osmundson, this podcast explores queer culture, literature, identity, and relationships through frank and thought-provoking conversations.
"Still Processing" - Hosted by New York Times culture writers Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, this podcast explores the intersection of culture, race, and sexuality, offering insightful and engaging discussions.
"LGBTQ&A" - Hosted by Jeffrey Masters, this podcast features interviews with LGBTQ+ individuals from various fields, including entertainment, politics, and activism, delving into their personal journeys and contributions.
"The Heart" - Produced by Kaitlin Prest, this podcast offers a unique exploration of love, relationships, and intimacy from a queer perspective, featuring personal narratives and audio art.
"Bad Queers" - Hosted by Cameron Glover and Adrian Grinich, this podcast delves into queer identity, culture, and activism, discussing topics such as representation, mental health, and social justice.
"Queer as Fiction" - Hosted by Audrey Ivancovich, Jess Richards, and Ashly Perez, this podcast explores LGBTQ+ representation in popular media, reviewing and discussing books, TV shows, and movies with queer characters or themes.
"Moonlight" (2016) - Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, this critically acclaimed film, directed by Barry Jenkins, tells the story of a young black man's journey of self-discovery and sexuality.
"Carol" (2015) - Adapted from Patricia Highsmith's novel "The Price of Salt," this romantic drama was written by Phyllis Nagy and directed by Todd Haynes. It explores the forbidden love between two women in the 1950s.
"Brokeback Mountain" (2005) - Directed by Ang Lee and based on a short story by Annie Proulx, this film was written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. It depicts the complex and forbidden love affair between two cowboys.
"But I'm a Cheerleader" (1999) - Written by Jamie Babbit and Brian Wayne Peterson, this satirical romantic comedy, directed by Jamie Babbit, follows a teenage cheerleader sent to a conversion therapy camp due to suspicions about her sexuality.
"The Favourite" (2018) - Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, this historical comedy-drama, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, portrays the power dynamics and political intrigue within the court of Queen Anne in the 18th century.
"Paris is Burning" (1990) - Directed by Jennie Livingston, this groundbreaking documentary explores New York City's drag ball culture of the 1980s, with a focus on African-American and Latinx LGBTQ+ performers.
"Weekend" (2011) - Written and directed by Andrew Haigh, this romantic drama follows the evolving relationship between two men over the course of a weekend.
"The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" (1994) - Written and directed by Stephan Elliott, this Australian comedy tells the story of two drag queens and a transgender woman as they journey across the Australian Outback.
"Tangerine" (2015) - Directed by Sean Baker, this film was co-written by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch. Shot entirely on an iPhone, it follows the adventures of two transgender sex workers on Christmas Eve.
"Love, Simon" (2018) - Based on the novel "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" by Becky Albertalli, this coming-of-age romantic comedy was directed by Greg Berlanti and written by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker. It focuses on a closeted gay teenager navigating love and high school.
James Baldwin: Known for his powerful writings on race, sexuality, and identity, James Baldwin is a highly influential African-American writer and essayist. His works include "Giovanni's Room" and "Another Country."
Audre Lorde: Audre Lorde was a celebrated poet, essayist, and feminist activist. Her works, such as "Sister Outsider" and "Zami: A New Spelling of My Name," explore themes of intersectionality, identity, and empowerment.
Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf, a British modernist writer, is known for her experimental style and exploration of gender and sexuality. Her works, including "Orlando: A Biography" and "Mrs. Dalloway," continue to be widely studied and admired.
Armistead Maupin: Armistead Maupin is an American author renowned for his "Tales of the City" series. Set in San Francisco, the books explore the lives and relationships of a diverse group of LGBTQ+ characters.
Sarah Waters: Sarah Waters is a British author whose historical fiction novels often feature lesbian protagonists. Her notable works include "Tipping the Velvet" and "Fingersmith."
Patricia Highsmith: Patricia Highsmith was an American novelist known for her psychological thrillers. Her novel "The Price of Salt," later adapted into the film "Carol," tells a love story between two women.
Edmund White: Edmund White is an American novelist, memoirist, and essayist. His works, such as "A Boy's Own Story" and "The Beautiful Room Is Empty," explore themes of sexuality and identity.
Jeanette Winterson: Jeanette Winterson is a British author whose novels often feature LGBTQ+ themes. Her notable works include "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" and "Written on the Body."
Ocean Vuong: Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese-American poet and novelist. His debut novel, "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous," explores themes of queerness, immigration, and family.
Carmen Maria Machado: Carmen Maria Machado is an American writer whose works blur the lines between genres. Her collection of short stories, "Her Body and Other Parties," received critical acclaim and explores themes of queerness and feminism.
How To Support LGBTQIA+ Employees As A Business Leader:
Corporate Leaders play a vital role in in advocating for human rights, LGBTQIA rights, and social justice legislation. In today's rapidly evolving social landscape, it is imperative for corporate leaders to recognize their responsibility beyond profit generation. As stewards of economic power and influence, they have the unique ability to effect positive change in society. One crucial area where corporate leaders can make a significant impact is by engaging with government representatives regarding legislation that affects human rights, LGBTQIA rights, and social justice matters. By leveraging their influence, they can champion policy changes that promote inclusivity, equality, and social progress.
Amplifying the Voice of the Marginalized: Corporate leaders possess a platform and resources that can amplify the voices of marginalized communities. By engaging with government representatives, they can provide crucial perspectives and insights on legislation affecting human rights, LGBTQIA rights, and social justice. This collaboration ensures that the experiences and concerns of those directly impacted by such legislation are accurately represented in policy-making processes.
Leveraging Economic Influence for Social Change: Corporate leaders hold significant economic power, and they can harness this influence to drive policy changes that advance human rights and social justice. By advocating for inclusive legislation, such as workplace nondiscrimination policies and equal marriage rights, they can help foster an environment that embraces diversity and respects individual rights. Moreover, companies that prioritize human rights and social justice issues often attract and retain top talent, strengthen their brand reputation, and build trust among stakeholders.
Fostering an Inclusive Corporate Culture: By engaging with government representatives on matters of human rights, LGBTQIA rights, and social justice, corporate leaders can actively contribute to shaping a more inclusive corporate culture. By advocating for policies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, they can create a workplace environment where all employees, irrespective of their backgrounds or identities, feel valued, respected, and empowered. This commitment to social progress not only benefits employees but also positively impacts the overall organizational culture and productivity.
Provide Comprehensive Diversity Training: Organizations should invest in comprehensive diversity and inclusion training programs that educate employees about LGBTQIA+ identities, terminology, and experiences. Such training sessions can dispel misconceptions, promote empathy, and encourage respectful interactions. By fostering a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals, companies can create a more compassionate and supportive workplace culture.
Establish LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Groups: Encouraging the formation of LGBTQIA+ employee resource groups (ERGs) can be instrumental in creating a sense of community and support. ERGs provide a platform for LGBTQIA+ employees to connect, share experiences, and offer valuable insights to the organization. They also play a crucial role in advising leadership on policies, programs, and practices that promote inclusivity and equality. By recognizing and actively involving ERGs, companies demonstrate their commitment to valuing diverse perspectives.
Offer Inclusive Benefits and Policies: Companies should review their benefits and policies to ensure they are inclusive of LGBTQIA+ employees' needs. This includes offering transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, parental leave policies that encompass same-sex couples and adoptive parents, and flexible policies to accommodate gender transition processes. By providing inclusive benefits and policies, companies not only demonstrate support for LGBTQIA+ employees but also attract top talent from diverse backgrounds.
Celebrate Pride Month: Pride Month presents an opportunity for companies to publicly celebrate and show support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Employers can organize Pride-themed events, such as lunch-and-learns, panel discussions, or diversity fairs. These activities help foster awareness, educate employees, and provide a space for open dialogue. It is crucial to engage employees in these initiatives and encourage participation from allies, as allyship is a powerful tool for creating a more inclusive workplace.
Support External LGBTQIA+ Organizations: Companies can further demonstrate their commitment to LGBTQIA+ rights by partnering with external LGBTQIA+ organizations. This may involve sponsoring Pride events, making donations to LGBTQIA+ charities, or volunteering with local organizations that support the community. Engaging in these external initiatives not only amplifies the company's impact but also sends a strong message to employees and customers about its dedication to diversity and inclusivity.
Influencing Corporate Supply Chains and Business Practices: Corporate leaders can leverage their engagement with government representatives to advocate for legislation that promotes fair and ethical business practices throughout their supply chains. By supporting legislation that combats forced labor, child labor, and discrimination, they can help create an environment where human rights are respected at every level of production and distribution. This not only aligns with the principles of social justice but also mitigates reputational risks and ensures sustainable business growth.
Companies that have taken a stand against unethical laws or policies, and won:
When the state of Arizona was considering a controversial bill in 2014 that would have allowed businesses to deny service to same-sex couples based on religious objections, the NFL warned that the state's chances of hosting the Super Bowl could be jeopardized if the bill were to become law. The potential economic impact of losing the Super Bowl influenced the decision to veto the bill.
In 2015, Salesforce promised to reduce its investments in the state of Indiana after the passing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which many believed could be used to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. The company's CEO, Marc Benioff, publicly criticized the law and emphasized the importance of equality and inclusivity. The state eventually made revisions to the law to address the concerns raised.
In 2016, PayPal announced that it would cancel its plans to open a global operations center that would have employed 400 people in Charlotte, North Carolina, in response to the passing of the state's controversial "bathroom bill." The legislation required transgender individuals to use restrooms corresponding to their biological sex rather than their gender identity. PayPal's decision was based on their commitment to equality and non-discrimination.
2022 began a long-standing feud between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over his "Don't Say Gay" bill which restricts classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida's K-12 public schools. After Disney's public Disney's condemnation of the bill, DeSantis moved to strip the company of it's self-governing status. The feud has continued to escalate since March 2022 and Disney recently cancelled an office complex project that was scheduled for construction in Orlando at a cost of roughly $1 billion. The office complex would have brought more than 2,000 Disney jobs to the region, according to an estimate from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
These examples highlight how companies can use their economic influence and public platform to express their opposition to laws or policies they deem unethical and discriminatory. By threatening to move their business or withdraw investments, these companies put pressure on lawmakers to reconsider and revise such legislation.
Corporate leaders have a vital role to play in advocating for legislation that impacts human rights, LGBTQIA rights, and social justice matters. By utilizing their economic influence, amplifying the voices of the marginalized, fostering inclusive corporate cultures, and aligning their businesses with sustainable development goals, they can make a substantial impact on policy changes. By engaging with government representatives, corporate leaders can contribute to the creation of a fair, just, and inclusive society that benefits not only their businesses but also the well-being of individuals and communities as a whole.
Resources for LGBTQIA+ Individuals
Pride Month serves as a reminder of the importance of supporting and uplifting LGBTQIA+ individuals in the workplace. We all must actively work towards creating an environment where all people feel safe, accepted, and empowered to bring their authentic selves to work and every aspect of their lives. By fostering an inclusive culture, providing comprehensive training, establishing employee resource groups, offering inclusive benefits, celebrating Pride Month, and supporting external LGBTQIA+ organizations, businesses can play a pivotal role in driving positive change and promoting equality for all. Together, let us honor the progress made in LGBTQIA+ rights, embrace diversity, and continue working towards a future where every individual feels safe, valued, respected, and celebrated regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
If you are interested in learning more about how Level can help create more inclusive and accepting workplace cultures, please reach out!
Happy Pride Month!