WASHINGTON – For years Corporate America has far outpaced lawmakers when it comes to providing protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the workplace and advocating for LGBT equality. And this year as LGBT Americans commemorate June as Pride Month, many of the nation’s most recognizable brands are showcasing their support for equality through high profile LGBT-centered advertisements and social media promotions.
In the past, most companies and brands rarely – if ever – used LGBT-specific themes in marketing or advertisements. Today, companies are focusing sharply on the quickly changing research demonstrating that a vast majority of Americans support LGBT equality. Businesses recognize that it is incredibly unpopular to be anti-gay, and in fact, now view a pro-equality stance as a way to entice the millions of fair-minded Americans who champion LGBT civil rights as an important issue.
Adding to this have been the phenomenal flops from opponents of equality who have attempted to curb corporate LGBT advocacy. The so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which advocates against equal rights for LGBT people, has undertaken multiple failed boycott campaigns in recent years against companies that support equality. The group’s calls for boycotts against Starbucks and General Mills – after the companies endorsed marriage equality initiatives in Washington and Minnesota, respectively – had no lasting impact on sales. In fact, NOM’s calls to “Dump Starbucks” and “Dump General Mills” only emboldened the corporate giants to be more vocal in their support for equality, with the Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz telling a disgruntled shareholder, “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”
Among the most visible LGBT Pride Month promotions this year have been from some of America’s most iconic brands:
Marriott International made news with its #LoveTravels campaign featuring images of prominent LGBT spokespeople wrapped around hotels, in print ads and billboards, as well as widespread social media promotion.
Retailer Macy’s partnered with HRC again this year to celebrate Pride Month, and will feature new HRC merchandise at select locations across the country. HRC’s ‘Everyone – Everywhere’ and ‘I Stand On the Right Side of History’ merchandise will be prominently displayed on t-shirts, hats and accessories throughout stores and one hundred percent of the proceeds will go towards HRC’s fight for equality.
Apple continues to show its support for the LGBT community with a featured station on iTunes Radio, celebrating LGBT Pride through music. The iTunes Store is also offering a collection of LGBT-themed movies, apps, music, books, and more. Many Apple employees and their families will be marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade later this month.
Honey Maidchanged its profile picture on its social media platforms to a modified version of HRC’s logo featuring two graham crackers as the equal sign.
Google has continued its tradition of adding a rainbow-colored border to its search bar when users search for LGBT-related terms like “LGBT” and “marriage equality.”
Famed designer and activist Kenneth Cole is once again raising awareness for LGBT equality, with limited edition t-shirts featuring the red HRC equal sign logo inlaid with the text, "Unite The States of America ... Support Marriage Equality for all of U.S."
AT&T has launched their second annual “Live Proud” campaign inviting users to create and upload their own memes in celebration of awareness, empowerment and pride.
For the third year, Nike has released a limited edition #BETRUE apparel line to celebrate the LGBT community.
This year Levi’slaunched a whole Pride Month collection devoted to celebrating over 30 years of support for the LGBT community.
General Mills is using the iconic Lucky Charms as the face of its Pride promotions, and launched a web video that encourages social media followers to tweet and post their reasons why they're proud using the hashtag #LuckyToBe.
Ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’sshared Pride themed images on social media with the slogan, “Love Comes in All Flavors.”
Retailer Nordstrom asked its LGBT and allied employees to share their thoughts on Pride Month in a photo montage on the store’s website.
Other companies and brands are expected to unveil Pride Month promotions, advertisements and merchandise throughout June.
Many companies’ commitment to LGBT equality is measured in part by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). This national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality found that 304 major businesses — spanning nearly every industry and geography — earned a top score of 100 percent and the coveted distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” for the year 2013. View the full report at www.hrc.org/cei.
Over the past 12 years, the CEI has become the gold standard for corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees and their families. The CEI rates companies on 40 such policies and practices. A total of 931 businesses were rated in the 2014 CEI, including the entire Fortune 500. This year, a record 299 of the Fortune 500-ranked businesses have official CEI ratings, with the other 197 unofficially rated based upon publicly-available data.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.