Building LGBT-Inclusive Companies from the Inside, Out

In 29 states, it is legal for employees to be fired because of their sexual orientation, and in 38 states, it is legal to terminate employees based on gender identity. While countless LGBT professionals continue to live in fear of losing their jobs just for being who they are, GLAAD is working to promote LGBT-inclusive employment protections in the media and inside companies across America.

GLAAD is expanding our work to offer Inclusive Workplace trainings that provide companies with resources to ensure all employees are accepted, respected and valued for who they are. GLAAD provides employees with terminology guides that help educate personnel about how to address LGBT co-workers and encourages allies to voice their support for their LGBT colleagues.

Companies are also beginning to understand the importance of including LGBT people in their marketing efforts. Community Marketing, a marketing group that helps companies connect with LGBT consumers, reports that LGBT people make up 5 to 10 percent of the United States' consumer market, with an estimated buying power of $743 billion. As more and more companies begin to realize that buying potential, they are also beginning to appeal to LGBT consumers through ads.

In an Advertising Week first, New York's 2010 Ad Week was host to two LGBT panels. The first, held by GLAAD and Publicis Groupe, invited marketers to get a better understanding of LGBT consumers and hear from advertisers who are already successfully working in creating LGBT-inclusive campaigns. Panelists included representatives from cable channel LOGO, Microsoft, American Airlines and Prime Access. The second event, a council led by the Advertising Research Foundation, addressed how to reach LGBT people in a fair and accurate way that both demonstrates a company's support for LGBT people while simultaneously appealing to the community's buying power.

Acknowledging the LGBT community at events like Advertising Week is essential, especially at a time when advertisers continue to fall behind other media when it comes to sharing images of LGBT people.

"Now, more than ever, Americans expect to see images of LGBT people on TV and in film," said GLAAD's Senior Director of Media Programs, Rashad Robinson. "Advertisers are falling behind that standard and missing invaluable opportunities to engage our community and demonstrate their support for full equality."

GLAAD's annual Media Awards in Advertising promote inclusive images in the advertising industry as we continue to advocate for increased inclusion of LGBT people in advertising campaigns.

GLAAD's work to amplify LGBT voices in the media is complemented by the resources we continue to offer local and national companies looking to create safer spaces for LGBT employees. At GLAAD, we know that when companies promote inclusion from the inside, they will start to promote inclusion outside.