The CEOS of AT&T and the accounting firm Ernst & Young, major players in corporate America, have taken public stances in support equality for people in the LGBT community in recent months. James S. Turley, CEO and Chairman of the latter business, has promised to work with the Boy Scouts of America, as a current board member, to repeal their anti-inclusive policies against LGBT participants. CNBC, in an article this morning, cites these companies to illustrate the growing trend of companies’ involvement with issues pertaining to social policies.
CNBC states that Turley and AT&T CEO and Chairman Randall Stephenson “and their companies have a strong record on supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights. Both companies have recently issued statements in support of gay rights. But both CEOs sit on the board of the Boy Scouts of America, which has a policy that doesn’t allow individuals who are openly gay to be members or serve as Scout leaders.”
This policy has received much media attention in the past few months since scout leader and mother Jennifer Tyrrell was ousted from her position because she is a lesbian. She recently created a petition on Change.org calling for the two CEOS to work against discriminatory policies from within BSA as board members. Turley’s named was dropped from the petition when he, on behalf of Ernst & Young released a statement pledging to do just as Tyrrell hoped, saying that inclusivity “is the right thing for our people and makes us a better organization.” Though AT&T did not release quite the same statement, Stephenson did reaffirm that “diversity and inclusion” are integral parts of the company’s “culture and operations.”
In the article, CNBC references JCPenney, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Gap, and Target as companies that have also spoken or acted in support of LGBT consumers.
“What started as grassroots support at the consumer level has reached the highest levels of business and government with JC Penney and even President Obama coming out in support of gay rights,” according to CNBC.
CNBC quotes GLAAD’s Rich Ferraro, vice president of communications, who says "Corporate America has found that it's a smart business decision to stand with the majority of Americans who support gay and lesbian couples,” and that such companies “are building loyal consumer bases simply by being inclusive.”
America’s top business news channel, CNBC has its own history of supporting equality. For Spirit Day this past October, hosts Jim Cramer, Simon Hobbs, and GLAAD Media Award-winning anchor Suze Orman were among those participating in the channel’s staff-wide support for LGBT youth, having worn purple to signify their “spirit.”
Stacey Widlitz, retail analyst, is quoted in the article, saying that standing with LGBT consumers “will become an increasing theme for retailers…If they don’t, they will be left behind.”