With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
As marriage equality legislation makes its way through courtrooms across the country, it’s clear that equality will soon be the norm rather than the exception. While some companies still hang on walls of shame across the blogosphere for their persistent opposition to LGBT equality, an ever-growing list of forward-thinking firms are turning up the volume in their support for diversity.
Nike is three years into its #BeTrue apparel and footwear line that promotes LGBT equality. Last year, the company donated $200,000 in proceeds from that line to the LBGT Sports Coalition, a nonprofit formalized in June 2013 at Nike’s annual LGBT Sports Summit in Portland, Oregon.
The company also started the Nike Equality PAC to support same-sex marriage in Oregon last fall, which included $100,000 in up-front capital from the company and an additional $180,000 from its executives.
2. Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co. has a long history of supporting equal rights. It partnered with White Knot for Equality in 2009 and 2010 to feature white ribbons on its iconic blue jeans in support of same-sex marriage. In 2012, the company linked up with the Human Rights Campaign to produce men’s and women’s T-shirts in support of marriage equality.
“Levi’s has always been a tremendous voice for equality,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a 2012 press release. “From ensuring fairness in California by rallying business opposition to Proposition 8, publicly supporting marriage equality in New York with specialty-designed storefront windows and scoring a 100 percent on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, Levi’s has been a long-standing and ardent supporter of marriage equality.”
The fourth largest company in the world, IBM makes diversity a core part of its business model. The company has 43 LGBT diversity network groups around the world — 19 in the United States, 16 in Europe, four in Latin America and four in Asia Pacific — and featured a section on employee inclusion in its most recent corporate responsibility report. It has also rated a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index since 2003 and is named one of the organization’s “Best Places to Work” for LGBT equality.
4. Honey Maid
In early March, Honey Maid launched its “This Is Wholesome” ad campaign featuring several “unconventional” families, including a family with two dads. After the ad drew criticism from religious and anti-gay circles, the company released a follow-up video on social media addressing both the negative and positive comments it received. The ad itself is enough to bring a tear to your eye, and the company’s willingness to double-down on its position about what makes an “all-American” family proves it stands on the side of equality.
5. Caesars Entertainment
Earlier this year, Caesars Entertainment celebrated New Jersey’s legalization of gay marriage by offering one lucky couple an extravagant $50,000 wedding package at one of the company’s Caesars, Harrah’s, Bally’s and Showboat resorts and casinos in Atlantic City. The company has also maintained a perfect 100 in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for seven years in a row and is named as one of the organization’s “Best Places to Work.”
6. American Airlines
American Airlines launched its Rainbow campaign, a dedicated sales staff and website to serve the LGBT community, way back in 1994. The company has also scored consistently high marks in the HRC’s Buyers Guide and Corporate Equality Index and appears on the organization’s “Best Places to Work” list.
Google strives to make its workplace more inclusive on every level. Joining the ranks of employee resources groups for veterans, women and multiple nationalities, Google’s Gayglers group is made up of LGBT ‘Googlers’ and their allies. “The Gayglers not only lead the way in celebrating Pride around the world, but also inform programs and policies, so that Google remains a workplace that works for everyone,” the search giant writes on its website.
The company also isn’t afraid to go public with its support for the LGBT community. In 2012, it launched its Legalize Love campaign to support LGBT rights around the world. It has also changed its iconic search bar to rainbow colors on many occasions — perhaps most famously during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, in protest of Russia’s anti-gay legislation.
8. Gap, Inc.
Gap, Inc. established its Gap Gay Employees, Allies & Resources (GEAR) program back in 2006 to create an inclusive and supportive environment for LBGT employees. More recently, the company took to social media in support of the Supreme Court’s decision to kill the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. It also scored a perfect 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index and was named one of its “Best Places to Work.”
Earlier this year, former BP CEO John Browne released a book, “The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out Is Good Business,” about his double life as an executive and a closeted gay man. When speaking to the press about the business case for equality, Browne, who was forced to resign from his position at BP after being outed by a British tabloid, pointed to Starbucks as a diversity success story.
The coffee giant’s corporate leadership discussed its support for same-sex marriage at a 2012 shareholder meeting, resulting in a boycott by the National Organization for Marriage. A year later, an angry shareholder addressed the company’s annual meeting, blaming the company’s political position for its less-than-stellar earnings in the quarter after the campaign. In response, Starbucks Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Schultz said, “Not every decision is an economic decision … We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity. Of all kinds.”
Apple donated $100,000 to defeat California’s Proposition 8 way back in 2008. When Prop 8 and DOMA were defeated in the Supreme Court last year, the company had this to say: “Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we consider it a civil rights issue. We applaud the Supreme Court for its decisions today.”
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a senior editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands, Earth911 and the Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.