Today is Spirit Day, the day to take a stand against bullying and to support LGBT youth. The color of the day is purple, which represents “spirit” on the rainbow flag. Many individuals, companies, brands, even casts of television shows, are donning purple to show support for the LGBT community. Even though human sexuality is still a sensitive subject, especially in the United States, corporations are going gay. It makes perfect (business) sense.
A few examples of LGBT inclusive brands include Ketel One, Costco, Netflix, Panera Bread, YouTube, Amazon, Nike, Honey Maid, Allstate Insurance, and Marriott International (just to name a few!), and they are proudly out of the traditionally unsupportive corporate closet. In an era where women are still earning less than men, and people who identify as LGBT are still under threat of violence, many household name brands are coming out in support of equality.
Typically, companies tend to steer away from commenting on “taboo” subjects that could get them into hot water with investors, employees or consumers. As time goes on, the line has gotten blurry – what used to be a social issue worthy of “no comment” is now a core company value. At MRY for example, employees are able to show support for their fellow lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender coworkers through a program called Égalité, which is a diversity advocate group and resource network within Publicis Groupe. This group provides a somewhat rare office culture, a place where unrelenting honesty prevails. Nothing is forced under the rug.
Personal relationships amongst open and out coworkers offers a rare opportunity to really understand where the gaps in marketing might be. A company that is open about employee sexuality will inevitably be forward-thinking when it comes to other areas of business. Take Apple for example. They strongly supported the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, calling it a “civil rights issue”. Apple also created a gay pride video, featuring a revamped rainbow Apple logo and thousands of Apple employees marching in the San Francisco pride parade.
A report released by online publication Curve by Getty Images found that when LGBT-identified people are represented in advertising, it’s not only fair, but also great for business. A business that is inclusionary and supports equal rights is considered a progressive entity, and fabulous as hell.
Plenty of companies take a firm stance on equality, and sometimes they are horribly misguided. Chick-Fil-A went under extreme scrutiny when President Dan Cathy took the very public stand AGAINST equal rights. Although he alienated a portion of his clientele, business got a lift – journalists presume this is due to the large Chick-Fil-A presence in the Southern (and more conservative) states. As brands come out in support, and opposition, of equality and basic human rights, the line will become more divided between those who are for LGBT, and those who are against. It’s all a bunch of religious chicken sandwich politics, my dear.
Including everyone regardless of race, background, or sexual preference and identity makes perfect business sense, and more importantly, moral sense. Discriminating against one group of people isn’t human, and including everyone doesn’t infringe on any individual rights. Who cares about the haters, anyway?
Visit the GLAAD website to find out more about how you can be part of the corporate equality revolution.