In a special section included in this week’s issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the LGBT community meets corporate America. For the second time in a week—the first being USA Today -- a national outlet has run a special section around LGBT equality. BusinessWeek’s two-article section covers corporate America’s move towards LGBT-inclusion in the workplace and the growing number of companies advertising to the LGBT community. This marks one of the first times BusinessWeek has covered LGBT inclusion in the workplace. GLAAD partnered with BusinessWeek to develop the articles and send an important message to corporate America: LGBT inclusion in the workplace is vital to a company’s success. “Equal Values,” the first article in the spread, highlights changes being made in corporate America that are LGBT-inclusive—in the name of “policies, processes, benefits, and programs that protect LGBT employees and their loved ones.” Laws still state that in 29 states an employee can be fired because of an individual’s sexual orientation, and in 35 states because of a person’s gender identity. The article highlights sentiments made by GLAAD Senior Director of Programs and Communications, Herndon Graddick, that “creating environments where people can work without fear of discrimination ensures a more productive workforce.” Companies including Hilton Worldwide, Allstate (2011 GLAAD Corporate Responsibility recipient for “sustained and creative corporate commitment to the LGBT community”), Scripps Networks Interactive, American Airlines (2011 GLAAD Amplifier Award recipient), and Google (also a 2011 GLAAD Amplifier Award recipient) are all spotlighted for having proactive measures and policies in place that offer fair and equal treatment for LGBT people in the workplace. The article mentions Hilton’s launch of an LGBT Team Member Resource Group and Allstate’s updating of its Family and Medical Leave Act policy to include domestic partners and civil unions. Perhaps the most touching part of the article is Scripps Networks Interactive’s consideration of Director of Original and Special Event Programming for HGTV, Loren Ruch’s partner and relocation. Ruch mentions how “tolerant, encouraging, and forward-thinking” the company was during his interview. He relocated to Tennessee with his partner to accept the offer, and his partner was later offered a position at Scripps Networks Interactive. “Going to Market”, the second article, focuses on the LGBT dollar and brand loyalty. According to the article, analysis by Witeck-Combs Communications and Packaged Facts estimates the buying power of the LGBT adult population at $743 billion. Brand loyalty among LGBT consumers is noted as key reason for that impressive buying power. The article highlights the importance of not just marketing to the LGBT community, but taking care to include LGBT Americans in the advertisements and campaigns—noting that companies that do this “get it.” Companies “get it” not just in the form of LGBT-dollars but they also “get it” by helping to advance LGBT equality in mainstream America. One such company that “gets it” : Diageo. With its ROKK Vodka campaign and tagline, “Filtering Out Inequality,” the company took a stand to tell Americans that they supported equality and was also the presenting partner of the 2011 GLAAD Media Awards. Visibility of LGBT people in advertising is becoming more present with other companies as well. American Airlines, Macy’s, Orbitz and Kenneth Cole are just some of the companies mentioned in the article as groundbreaking in their LGBT-inclusive advertisements. This October, GLAAD’s 2011 Amplifier Awards, which honor the best in LGBT-inclusive advertising and corporate America, will recognize companies like Google, GE, and Kaiser Permanente for their placement of LGBT-inclusive advertisements in mainstream media outlets like Family Circle. Having corporate America – and one of the nation’s largest business magazines - recognize the importance of LGBT equality is a step forward that helps everyone to “get it.” This issue of BusinessWeek is out now and can be purchased at newsstands and any place where magazines are sold.
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