PHOENIX (April 15, 2013)–Today the Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (GPGLCC) announced the results of its six-month survey measuring how equitably local business treat their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) employees. Valley businesses with up to 500 employees, government agencies with more than 500 employees and local offices of larger companies were invited to participate. Nineteen employers scored a 100 on the survey and 45 scored an 80 percent or higher. In addition to publishing the results, the GPGLCC has produced a buying guide of companies that embrace diversity.
This is only the second time in Arizona state history that such a study has been performed and one of only a few similar studies ever conducted in the United States. The survey was partially funded by Phoenix Pride Community Foundation, a donor advised fund of the Arizona Community Foundation.
More than 2500 companies were asked to participate in the Business Equality Index survey. A total of 93 employers responded to the invitation. The organizations receiving the highest rating are ACE Publishing, Inc. dba Echo Magazine, Aetna, Inc, Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers (AACHC) Camelback Retirement Planners, Campbell Law Group, Chartered, City of Phoenix, Community Tire Pros & Auto repair, Just A Great Massage PLLC, KEO Marketing Inc, Kustom Karaoke, LLC, Land of Ahhs Consignment, Liberty Mutual Insurance, MassMutual, Arizona, North Valley Mechanical, Open Wide Dental, Schiliro & Pouquette Insurance Agency, Schuster Printing and Marketing, Sonoran Business Solutions and Tony Felice PR. The join previous perfect scorers Arizona State University, City of Tempe, City of Scottsdale and companies Campbell & Mahoney and Land of Ahhs Consignment Stores.
Among the findings, 98 percent of small employers (less than 20 employees) actively promote diversity, between 80 and 90 percent of medium sized business and large business actively promote LGBT diversity. Less than half of small employers provide domestic partner benefits, while around 60 percent of medium and large sized businesses offer benefits to same sex couples.
Among the medium and large sized respondents, the survey found that the majority have written policies protecting LGBT workers and an overwhelming number are active in the gay community.
The survey comes on the heels of the recent City of Phoenix ordinance making discrimination of the LGBT community illegal.
“This is and always has been an economic development tool,” said Kathleen Osborn, Chair of the GPGLCC. “As the City of Phoenix and the more than 100 cities in America who’ve adopted the policy know, it’s good for business and this survey reflects companies who know that.”
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton responded to the report saying, “It’s clear that more and more companies recognize that being LGBT inclusive is more than a social responsibility, it is a critical part of making Phoenix a world-class city and doing good business.”
Tony Felice, the Project Manager of the Survey and Diversity & Public Relations Chair of the GPGLCC was encouraged that the number of respondents was about double those from last year but cited the Valley’s lack of understanding of what being recognized as diverse can be.
“When you look at it in terms of dollars, so many LGBT individuals have thousands of friends and family. When you multiply those numbers, you’re talking about a sizeable market and some companies are leaving a lot of money on the table. Studies show that the gay community has between $700 and $800 billion in buying power and when you include those friends and family, the money is staggering.”
Felice also cited social media which has shown, especially with the recent red equal sign campaign on Facebook (for marriage equality) that a vast number of straight supporting friends are really becoming vocal about equality.
“What this means is that when they find out that a company is LGBT supportive, chances are they will buy from that company and be loyal.” Recent backlash among companies who have demonstrated to be anti-LGBT seem to strengthen that argument.
The LGBT community is historically very brand-loyal. A recent Harris Poll national survey among 2,357 US Adults found that nearly three-fourths (74 %) of LGBT consumers are likely to consider brands that support nonprofits and/or causes that are important to them as a LGBT person, an increase from January 2007 when 62 % reported they were likely to consider those brands. A significant portion of these adults, two-fifths (41 %) say they are extremely likely or very likely to consider these brands. Even in a struggling economy, LGBT consumers express an unmistakable and stronger sense of brand loyalty to companies that support their community,” said Wes Combs, President of Witeck-Combs Communications. “Maintaining this trusting and sensitive relationship requires a sustained effort to incorporate diversity, fairness, and inclusion into a company’s DNA.”
With its “Legalize Love” campaign, Google became the latest in a fast growing number of companies to publicly take a LGBT supportive stance. Martha White in a recent
New York Times article echoes this sentiment. “Far from being simply feel-good initiatives, these moves are highly calculated, marketing experts say. Companies may be embracing the rainbow, but the motivating color is still green.
Felice promises the GPGLCC will continue to produce a written document that demonstrates (or not) the diversity of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. He said their wish is that such a document can be used for economic development purposes, in attracting employers who seek a diverse region in which to establish their business. Typically, these employers bring a high knowledge workforce and high wage jobs, all of which can contribute to economic stability.
A broader national survey is conducted each year by the Human Rights Campaign, which looks at companies with more than 500 employees. Many of the companies scoring a 100% on that survey have a presence in the Valley and are listed on the GPGLCC Survey.
For more information and to download a copy of the final report, visit www.phoenixgaychamber.com