Photo: Steve Johnson
It isn’t only the summer sunshine that makes the month of June brighter. As the 30-day span each year where the world joins together to celebrate, honor and demonstrate their support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, you’ll see plenty of rainbows, parades, and parties. While it is an appreciated gesture to be tolerant and welcoming from the inside out of your company — spanning internal practices and outward messaging — some businesses go above and beyond. After all, diversity and inclusion principles aren’t only important for a single month, but vital for progress year-round. Get inspired by the way these companies honor LGBTQ employees and customers — and perhaps, present the same values at your next executive leadership meeting:
They bring equality to the wedding industry.
At the heart of founder and editor-in-chief Brittny Drye’s magazine, Love Inc, is equality. In fact: the ‘Inc’ in the name is a nod to ‘inclusive’ — a subtle way to acknowledge the site’s purpose through branding. She created this destination because she wanted inclusivity to have a place in the wedding industry. Now, her site is a place where every type of ceremony is featured, whether a couple is straight, gay, lesbian or identifies otherwise. To ensure a balance is maintained, Drye applies a formula on their editorial calendar, keeping track of the mix.
“Our content is made up of real celebrations, such as engagement shoots and weddings, submitted to us by wedding photographers, wedding planners, even the couples themselves. Because of our devotion to inclusivity, we alternate between featuring gay, straight, and lesbian features, so that we’re equally representing orientations,” she shares.
They also help this community feel more comfortable planning their big day by contacting every wedding professional and vendor listed on their site to ensure they are equality-minded and open to working with LGBTQ couples, so a twosome doesn’t have to feel like they’re continuously ‘coming out’ when trying to find a baker, a florist and so on. After all, when you make your love affair official — and legally binding — it should be a happy experience, not one where you feel like you have to justify yourself.
They join efforts to lead change.
As a gay-owned and managed business with an all-female executive team and an ethnically, racially and LGBTQ diverse-staff, Back Bar USA is committed to promoting inclusion, throughout ever pillar of their company. In addition to partnering with national accounts — from sbe to Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants — to implement Absolut Rainbow Vodka into their beverage programs for the month of June, they also contribute to the overall community by signing up for leadership opportunities as they arise.
One effective example is their participation in the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Over the past ten years, they have donated more than $800,000 in cash and in-kind service contributions to organizations that support this set of individuals. These charities include Aid for AIDS of Nevada, the Human Rights Campaign and the AIDS Walk in Las Vegas to name a few. These forward demonstrations illustrate their commitment—and make them a pioneer in continued acceptance and tolerance.
They give power to their LGBTQ users – allies.
Though there are some dating sites designated specifically for the gay community, others openly welcome orientations of all kinds, like OkCupid. In an effort to show their support of equal rights and representation, they partnered with the ACLU to develop the #RightotLove campaign. Users can choose to display an ACLU badge on their profile, and for each user who says they support this effort, OkCupid will donate $1. Not only was this important to offer to users, but a cause that employees felt passionate about.
“As a brand that fosters love and connection, OkCupid stands with the ACLU — now more than ever in light of the recent Supreme Court decision. No one — no matter your gender, ethnicity, orientation, or religion — should be denied the basic right to love and be loved,” explains Melissa Hobley, the CMO of OkCupid.
They let their employees pave the way.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but in an effort to be inclusive, some companies forget to go straight to the source. To avoid the danger of making assumptions, 305 Fitness, a franchise with studios in New York, Boston and Washington D.C., turns to their diverse staff about what is important to their needs and performance. And when it comes to including the LGBTQ community, they ask the right questions to ensure they’re hitting the mark appropriately and kindly.
Before planning their Pride month crowdsourced, asking ‘What do our instructors and DJs think are the best ways for us to support and celebrate LGBTQ Pride?’ Since the staff is much more tuned-in to the customers who choose to work out with this fitness company, they have a better pulse — no pun intended — on what the LGBTQ exercise enthusiasts would appreciate.
They added that many of their best ideas on inclusion are derived from their open environment, which makes it a more inviting, encouraging, and happier place to work. In fact, over the past five years, they’ve retained more than 95% of their instructors and DJ staff.