Today’s blog post comes to you from our new Director of Corporate Strategy Todd Heustess.
Recently, Net Impact hosted a Webinar discussion facilitated by Deena Fidas, Deputy Director of the Workplace Project at the Human Rights Commission (HRC). The webinar focused on the changing role of corporate involvement in LGBT legislation.
When it comes to equality in the workplace, corporations are increasingly in front of local, state, and federal laws. They are not only providing equal workplace protections and benefits for LGBT employees, but are also crossing over into advocacy. Corporate America is becoming an increasingly influential voice in legislative action that impacts the LGBT community, including marriage equality.
The most important LGBT legislative issues of 2013 – marriage & relationship recognition, non-discrimination protections, and domestic partner taxation – will have significant corporate support from companies such as Starbucks, General Mills, Brown Forman, Google, and Walgreens. The shift by corporations from the promotion of fairness and non-discrimination policies at the workplace to actively participating in the legislative process on behalf of the LGBT community is noteworthy for many reasons according to Fidas.
Companies increasingly want to be on the “right side of history” in terms of fairness and equality. They believe that advocating for fairness in gay marriage and non-discrimination laws aligns with their corporate values and also provides with valuable positive public relations. Companies also realize that the LGBT market segment is very brand loyal and very likely to spend their dollars with companies that are aligned with their values.
These reasons are not new and have been a driver of corporate involvement in the LGBT market segment for the last decade or more. What is new about current corporate advocacy is that companies, and in many cases their C-Suite level leadership are making a business case for their advocacy: that working to influence legislation on LGBT issues drives recruitment and the retention of talent; eliminates barriers to investment; and removes inconsistencies across operations, clients and suppliers.
A patchwork of different laws regarding domestic partner benefits and marriage across different jurisdictions in which a corporation does business adds costs to their bottom line and is just not good business. This emphasis on the negative costs of inconsistent laws and the business need for consistency in this regard is a powerful argument in favor of substantive legislative action with regards to LGBT marriage recognition and domestic partner benefits and could help to fuel significant legal changes in 2013.
Overall, the increased involvement of Corporate America in helping to achieve fairness and equality plays a new role in advocacy that wasn’t there before. It is a welcome development and hopefully a growing trend. Troup is at the forefront of this trend, making the case everyday that diversity is good for society and great for business.