Showing posts with label Commerce Diversity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commerce Diversity. Show all posts

January 29, 2017

Big Companies R Saying Let’s do Business but U Need to Be LGBT Certified







Large companies in the country are seeking more diversity in their suppliers, causing the number of ventures that identify themselves as “LGBT-certified” to increase substantially over the past few years, a new report by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) showed Wednesday.

“Corporate America is saying ‘We want to do business with you -- not despite the fact that you’re LGBT but because you’re LGBT,’” Justin Nelson, president and co-founder of NGLCC, told Bloomberg. “Twenty years ago, it was enough to sponsor a pride parade. It’s not enough anymore.”

Over 900 companies have so far turned to the group’s program that certifies the ownership of an enterprise as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender — up from 300 in 2012.

“These numbers tell the real story,” said Bob Witeck, president of the report’s analyst Witeck Communications. “LGBT entrepreneurs find inspiration and freedom everywhere we look to create jobs and economic value in America. I think we are just scratching the surface of our potential.”
 
The process of certification is similar to that of certifying women-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned enterprises. The LGBT certification program was started in 2004 — in partnership with the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and American Express Co. — two years after NGLCC was formed. A company needs to be 51 percent-owned and controlled by LGBT owners to receive the certification.

According to NGLCC, almost a third of Fortune 500 companies include LGBT ownership in purchasing programs, marking a key step towards LGBT supplier inclusion. Nelson told Bloomberg that the companies attempting to maintain a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index will also be required to include the community into their purchasing programs.

“People have this misconception that if you’re an LGBT company you are stereotypically ‘gay’ — you’re a florist or a designer, and all those businesses are great,” Nelson reportedly said. “But we have people doing aerospace and we have people doing construction and waste management.”

While the average revenue of the LGBT-certified companies stood at about $2.5 million in 2015, their total revenue was almost $1.15 billion. 

 

January 12, 2017

LGBT Inclusion Means Customer Loyalty and Business




When the Mail on Sunday outed Lord Browne ten years ago, he was forced to step down from BP in a matter of days. Yet when Tim Cook proactively decided to come out in a Businessweek interview in 2014, the global corporate community applauded.
The words used on both occasions couldn’t have been more different: Lord Browne spoke of “embarrassment and shock” for being outed. Tim Cook, on the other hand, said he was “proud to be gay,” adding: “I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me”.
When it comes to LGBT rights, this decade has seen a positive sea-change, with business constantly anticipating lawmakers. Think about it: today, U.S. federal law has no workplace protection for LGBT employees, yet 91% of Fortune 500 companies have introduced non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation. 67% of them have gone further, and have voluntarily extended health and insurance benefits to all LGBT families.
Europe has also seen his fair share of progress. MI5, the UK’s national counter-intelligence agency, currently ranks as Stonewall’s Top Employer of the year: a remarkable achievement when you think that until the early 90s, LGBT people were altogether banned from working at the British intelligence services.
Despite this encouraging progress, a lot remains to be done. In more than half of the world’s countries, LGBT people aren’t protected against workplace discrimination. Same-sex relationships are still criminalised in more than 70 nations, and perhaps most disheartening of all, 50% of LGBT students in the U.S. and in the UK continue to suffer severe bullying at school. As a result, up to a third decide to drop out. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that 40 percent of homeless youth on the streets of major U.S. cities are indeed LGBT people.
The waste of human and economic potential is immense. A report by Out Now estimates the U.S. economy could add an extra $9 billion a year if companies improved their ability to retain LGBT talent through the implementation of inclusive policies. Countries where such policies do not exist are missing out: the World Bank estimates India is losing $32 billion a year in economic output precisely because of widespread discrimination against LGBT people.
On the other hand, companies openly championing LGBT rights are reaping the benefits. LGBT costumers are among the most loyal: they reward companies who have got their back, even if this means spending more on their shopping basket. A big basket, if you consider that in the U.S. alone, the spending power of the LGBT community is calculated in the region of $800 billion a year.
Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz famously put his money where his mouth is when he told an anti-gay shareholder he was free to sell his stocks and invest somewhere else. The company successfully demonstrated it was in touch with current LGBT culture when it released a commercial featuring iconic drag queens Bianca del Rio and Adore Delano. The advert has now become an international YouTube hit.
Uber has also taken a leading role by prohibiting its drivers globally from discriminating against LGBT passengers, even if state laws might allow it in the countries where they operate. In the wake of the Orlando shootings, the company offered free rides to a number of selected LGBT landmark locations around the world and free transport to the families of the victims.
Sports and clothing companies are also embracing the trend. During Pride month, Adidas released a rainbow-flag makeover of its iconic Stan Smith trainer devoting a portion of the sales to an Oregon-based charity supporting homeless LGBT teens. And then of course, last year the NBA made headlines when it pulled its 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte due to the controversial HB2 law passed in March.
The numbers are clear: there is an economic case for LGBT inclusion, and it’s strong. Companies with strong LGBT policies tend to innovate the most, to have loyal employees, and to experience significantly less cases of discrimination lawsuits. In addition to that, they are also positively perceived by their customers. It’s a win-win.
But the inclusion journey does not happen overnight, and companies are seeking guidance. Where to start from, especially when operating in countries where same-sex relations are illegal? The answer is to think and act glocally: underscoring the business benefits of diversity locally, and adopting global policies that make the workplace safe, fair and accepting for all.
The first step in this direction is to openly assess whether LGBT employees are comfortable in disclosing their sexual orientation at work and in reporting homophobic bullying in the workplace. It is also important to have visible LGBT role models across the organisation. Allies are the next step: are there any senior managers within the organization openly championing and supporting LGBT-inclusive policies and employees? The role of allies is particularly powerful, because it drives the conversation from a ‘minority discourse’ to one of talent, performance and innovation.
In the words of the UN, the fight against homophobia is now, more than ever, a “development imperative”. By forging an internal culture of inclusion that transcends national policies yet is aware of them, companies have a tremendous opportunity to leverage their global influence to shape socio-economic progress.
Employees of international corporations should be able to feel reassured that regardless of the national context in which they live, when it comes to work, they will not  suffer discrimination because of who they choose to love and who they choose to be.

January 11, 2017

China’s LGBT Spring Driven by a Gay Economy




Below is an article I was hopping to see about China and its about the LGBT population we never thought we would see it accurately shown this way. Aware of events supplied by pictures coming from China of gays feeling freely at times to show some displays of attention, not that it would be in the same openness as in a major city in the US. Still for a close society as China had been, these were always welcoming. AS we read this report  from Fortune.com byCharlie Campbellwe can see a substantial incremental positioning of the LGBT in China. 
It’s amazing that while Russia descends into the old USSR policies of singling out a particular community for political gains for their leadership. China becomes more than just tolerant but actively works with people not because they are LGBT but because they are smart and have taken hold of their part of the economy to make themselves visibly needed.     [adamfoxie*blog]

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Midnight has just struck at a nightclub in Beijing’s toney Sanlitun neighborhood, and the dance floor is alive with lime-green wigs and clashing daiquiris. On the stage, a blonde drag queen called Hathor—after the ancient Egyptian deity—performs a strutting lip-sync to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” while girls in vintage suits and penciled mustaches whoop encouragement.

“Every bar wants a gay night right now,” says Marlon Ma, 25, who puts on Beijing’s award-winning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) event GLAM and organized the city’s first drag show last year. “I move venues every six months,” he tells Fortune, rubbing thumb and forefingers together in the international sign for hard cash. “Before it was probably half foreigners but I’m seeing more Chinese now than ever before.”

Beijing’s gay scene has shifted from the fringes to the mainstream of Beijing nightlife, as the world’s most populous nation — or at least its major cities — becomes grudgingly more accepting of alternative lifestyles. Helping things along is the realization that China’s burgeoning LGBT community — estimated at some 70 million people— is a free-spending sector that few businesses can afford to ignore.

                                                                             

CHINA-GENDER-FASHION-BUSINESS Yu Xiaoyang – who uses the stage name Xiao Bai meaning “Little White” – performing in Big Queen, a cross-dressing contest in the Icon Club in Shanghai on March 18, 2016.
The country's so-called “pink economy” is currently valued at $300 billion per annum, making it the world's third largest after Europe and the U.S. (Globally, the LGBT community is estimated to spend more than $3 trillion each year.)

There's even a Pride festival. Now in its eighth year, the ShanghaiPRIDE arts and advocacy festival encompasses concerts, film screenings, a “fun run” and gastronomy in China’s giddy financial hub. Although it was once treated with suspicion, all manner of businesses now clamor to be listed as sponsors.
“It’s progressing and we see a lot of new faces every year,” says cofounder Charlene Liu, 43, a semiconductor engineer by profession. “The most resistance we had was the first year, as nobody knew what it was — it was even my first PRIDE. One year we had to sit down with seven or eight government departments. But now we are cool with them.”
  
China even boasts the world’s most popular LGBT socializing app, called BlueD, whose 27 million members surpasses even global gay hookup phenomenon, Grindr. Late last year, BlueD launched a live-streaming platform that now has more than 100,000 users.

“The consumer power of the gay community is robust, but it has always been neglected,” says BlueD CEO and founder Geng Le — a former police officer. “We want to tell people that the pink economy is very strong.”

BlueD’s swanky new Beijing office testifies to that. The sweeping open-plan design is straight out of Silicon Valley, right down to the mid-floor gym equipment and mini-fridges crammed with Red Bull. But this is an unabashed LGBT enterprise; around three-quarters of staff are gay, and neat rows of computers sit amid rainbow murals and paintings of Greek-figured hunks draped in sheer clothes. Even the conference area chairs come in a vivid palate of rainbow colors. It’s here that BlueD just held a Pink Economy Innovation Contest that attracted more than 60 LGBT-facing business pitches.
“The whole society is moving forward, it’s becoming more accepting, more diverse, and individual value is more emphasized,” Geng tells Fortune, a photograph of himself meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang hanging overhead.

Official endorsement wasn’t easily acquired. BlueD’s first incarnation, launched as a website 16 years ago, was a little more risqué than its current slick app and was frequently shutdown. But a proven commitment to social responsibility has since helped assuage the authorities. Now BlueD reminds users every three months to take a free HIV test at one of its centers (there’s one on the ground floor of its Beijing headquarters).

“BlueD has a lot of dialogue in China, with officials, and we help educate society about the gay community,” says Geng. “We push everything forward.”

The slowly growing acceptance of LGTB lifestyles prompted Zhu Qiming, the CEO of Beijing tech firm G-Star Technologies, to plow $140,000 into developing a mobile role-player computer game specifically for the gay market. Due for release later this year, Rainbow Super Band allows a player to choose an avatar and customize it to match their personality. (One of the avatars is a bible-clutching priest. “Do you think that’s a problem?” asks Zhu.)

Players can form relationships with other users though positive interactions, even buying virtual gifts — snazzy watches or shoes, for example — with real money, providing G-Star with a revenue stream. “We are making a very large-scale, complicated game for gay people,” Zhu tells Fortune. “We provide the social gameplay so this group can meet others with the same interests.”
And yet, acceptance is still a relative term throughout much of an an essentially priggish nation. Same-sex liaisons were famously celebrated in early Chinese literature and art. However, society became horribly strait-laced following Mao Zedong’s revolution, when sexuality was sublimated to the great cause of communism. Homosexually was made a crime, and while it was decriminalized in 1997 it remained classified as a “mental illness” until 2001.
Today, cultural friction remains due to deep-rooted values regarding the primacy of the family and the common desire for a male heir. Although regulations have now been loosened, for decades the One-Child Policy reinforced intense obligations felt by grown children to procreate to please their aging parents. As a result, an estimated 70% of gay Chinese have entered into a heterosexual marriage, according to prominent sexologist Li Yinhe.

Familial pressure can manifest in shocking ways. Last year, a man in central China’s Henan province alleged he was subjected to 19 days of beatings and the force-feeding of drugs at a mental hospital after coming out to his parents and wife as gay. The 37-year-old underwent the “conversion therapy” after being sectioned by his family for a “sexual preference disorder.”

Tolerance remains scant in the provinces and among broader audiences. Last summer, a gay Internet soap opera called Addiction was nixed three episodes short of its 15-show run, despite being the second most popular show on iQiyi — China’s version of Netflix. And Ma says that after his first drag show last year 95% of reader comments in the national media were horrifying. “Even gay people from other smaller cities were saying it’s disgusting,” he says. “They didn’t understand what a drag act was, that it’s a type of performance. That was really sad and a reality check.”

Neither will Chinese LGBT activism follow the same path as the West's. There is no free press and the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is paranoid about any expression of community solidarity outside its auspices, especially those rooted in popular mobilization. “If you have 300 people walking down the street then it could be read as a protest,” says Ma. 
That means business and the pink dollar have to be at the vanguard. Last summer, ten same-sex couples won a free gay wedding ceremony and honeymoon in California courtesy of Taobao, the online-shopping platform run by Alibaba, which obviously felt comfortable enough to run the competition despite gay marriage being illegal in China. In January, a transgender man won a landmark court case for unfair dismissal against his employer. Says Ma: “Once my generation is grown up everything should be way easier.”

That is also when the real dividends of China’s pink economy will be reaped. As Liu points out, today’s gay Chinese with real spending power — aged 30 to 50 — are typically in closeted heterosexual relationships. But some young Chinese are able to “come out” in their teens or 20s to a somewhat more accepting society, and the beginnings of a social apparatus to help them thrive in their own skin. This generation has not yet reached its peak economic potential. “Right now, China’s pink economy is still in a nurturing stage,” says Liu. “But in five, ten years you’ll see it really blossoming.” Call it China’s LGBT Spring.



December 1, 2016

Trump Separating from His Business is Fuzzy Math, Why?





The fate of Donald Trump's fleet of businesses -- which ignited critics who say he'll be potentially subject to conflicts of interest -- is up in the air less than two months before the inauguration, but the real estate mogul indicated today that he will be stepping aside.

It remains to be seen, however, how effectively he will be able to distance himself and how he will be able to create a true firewall between his team and his children, should they take the reins as previously indicated.

In a series of tweets this morning, Trump said that "legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations."

"I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country," he wrote in one of the tweets.

"While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses," he continued.

Trump wrote that he will be "holding a major news conference... with my children" to discuss the plans in mid-December.

The Office of Government Ethics applauded Trump's plan to divest himself of business ties in a series of gushing tweets, though spokesman Seth Jaffe told ABC News that they “don’t know the details of their plan but we are willing and eager to help them with it.”

Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail that his children will be left in charge of the family business, but he also said he will consider putting his holdings in a blind trust, where a business owner removes himself from operations and puts an independent individual or body in charge in order to prevent conflicts of interest. However, it's not clear what his current thinking is on how he plans to proceed in separating himself from the business.

In the Jan. 14 Republican primary debate, Trump said he would put his business in a blind trust.

"I would put it in a blind trust. Well, I don't know if it's a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it," Trump said at the sixth primary debate. "If that's a blind trust, I don't know. But I would probably have my children run it with my executives and I wouldn't ever be involved because I wouldn't care about anything but our country, anything."

The statements appear to be at odds with each other -- if his children take charge of the business, they may communicate with him about dealings, which could influence policy or vice versa. If there is any communication or influence, the trust is no longer “blind.”

When Donald Trump Jr. was asked about the matter on "Good Morning America" in September, the eldest Trump son appeared unmoved.

"A blind trust is not a blind trust if it's being run by his children," ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos told Trump Jr.

"It is because he'll have nothing to do with it, George. He said that," he responded.

The Vast Trump Empire

The Trump brand is global, with the real estate mogul's company, the Trump Organization, holding properties around the United States as well as in several countries.

While the full extent of the president-elect's business ties are not clear, a financial disclosure form filed in July 2015 lists him as being associated with hundreds of LLCs and corporations.

The form lists the approximate value of the companies, ranging from less than $201 to more than $50 million. Incomes are listed in ranges in most cases as well.

The Trump Organization has two golf courses in Dubai, two courses and matching hotels in Scotland, a course and matching hotel in Ireland, two hotels in Canada, two buildings in India, and buildings in the Philippines, Uruguay, Brazil, Panama and South Africa.

PHOTO: A bagpipe player wears traditional dress next to Donald Trump and his family as they arrive to his Trump Turnberry Resort, June 24, 2016, in Ayr, Scotland.Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
A bagpipe player wears traditional dress next to Donald Trump and his family as they arrive to his Trump Turnberry Resort, June 24, 2016, in Ayr, Scotland.more +
The Trump name is also attached to 12 golf courses in seven states across the U.S., his realty company has listings in four states, and hotels in six states as well as their latest hotel in Washington D.C., which opened during the campaign.

However, Trump became the first presidential candidate in decades to not release his tax returns, so the president-elect's precise income, assets and liabilities remain unknown. Trump has said his taxes are under audit.

What Divestiture Would Entail

During an interview with The New York Times after the election, Trump said "the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can't have a conflict of interest... Despite that, I don’t want there to be a conflict of interest anyway."

Trump's assessment of the law is not entirely wrong: the president is exempt from prosecution under certain federal statutes that bar conflicts of interest, but laws against bribery, nepotism, and using public office for personal financial gain could still apply to him.

Paul Rothstein, a professor at Georgetown University Law School, said that Trump and all presidents are not bound by conflicts of interest laws that apply to other government officials.

"He is exempt from such laws because the thought apparently was that if the people trust a person enough to elect him President, he can be trusted with this," Rothstein told ABC News.

"He is bound by the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which says he cannot get financial benefit from foreign powers--and I can see that coming into play with some of his foreign investments," Rothstein said.

While Congress could launch investigations into perceived improprieties and launch impeachment proceedings if the situation is grave enough, there is no body specifically tasked with keeping watch of any misdeeds.

"Public opinion is the only policeman when it comes to conflicts of interest," said Matthew Sanderson, a Republican lawyer with the law firm Caplin & Drysdale.

Sanderson said that if Trump opts to put the Trump Organization into a blind trust, the process could last up to a year.

"He can sell some of his assets off to third parties and then sell the remaining core business to his children. He would place the proceeds of these sales into a trust and then appoint an independent individual as a trustee to be a steward over the funds, which is the component that makes the trust 'blind' and prevents conflicts of interest that could otherwise drag down his presidency," Sanderson told ABC.

There are several further steps that would have to be taken, Sanderson said, including issuing orders to stop anyone in the White House from treating his former business holdings differently than any others, and enacting a "'firewall' policy that would prohibit him and his White House staff from discussing business matters with anyone running his former businesses and then keep his children out of any formal [or] informal adviser positions, since they would be running the business."

The Office of Government Ethics applauded Trump's plan to divest himself of his business ties in a series of gushing tweets.

"Divestiture resolves conflicts of interest in a way that transferring control does not," OGE spokesman Seth Jaffe said. “We don’t know the details of their plan, but we are willing and eager to help them with it.”



  • ABC News' Taylor Dunn contributed to this report.

    August 6, 2016

    Versace Launches Homoerotic Ad About New Men’s Fragrance


    In the alluring video, Weber embraces sexual fluidity through flashes of homoerotic tension. In response to the video, designer Donatella Versace told WWD, “I love how Dylan Blue captures such an evocative world of Versace masculinity. I have always believed men should be strong, passionate, proud, expressive, unafraid.”

    The fashion icon added “I love that in today’s world, men feel able to reveal their true natures, to share their passions and their beliefs. It’s there in the fragrance, which is strong, fresh, seductive. It is there in the bottle design, which is powerful, distinctive. It is there in the beautiful, individual young men who feature in the campaign. It is there in the martial arts fighters who appear, and who prove their strength every day.” In a statement, Weber exposed his inspiration for the video saying, “I’ve been watching lots of movies lately where the actors are mixed martial arts fighters.”
    “It seems like they are always proving themselves so that the women characters will fall in love with them. I thought it would be interesting to do some photographs and make a film that dealt with this kind of relationship. Many women I know really respect the sensitivity and vulnerability of men. I wanted to show that men can have these qualities while remaining very strong and disciplined — like great athletes — and still fall in love with the girl of their dreams.” Weber added.  

    July 21, 2016

    Large Companies Love LGBT and Here is Why



                                                                           




    Annual study comes as companies target growing demographic

    About 7% of U.S. adults identify as gay, bisexual, transgender. We are up from 3% the Republicans were insisting back during the Reagan administration. That was down from 10% which then went down to 5%. Was this an organized, systemic way to bring down or erase as many LGBT people as possible?  The LGBT community has always felt a sense that the government and the church wanted to erase the numbers if not erase them totally.. A community without numbers is a community without power. Even if the numbers are not visible it basically has the same effect. 

    The numbers have always been based on fictitious science. If you have a bad base of samples you will get a bad set of numbers. When measuring the amount of gay people there are,  you have to take into account the possible amount of numbers you might be missing (closeted). You are not just going to add them to the base numbers but they will guide you if you get a very low number you know the example of people you are using are not being honest with you. After getting marriage equality in the United States you had enough gay people feeling good enough about themselves to say “yes” I am gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc. Meaning the numbers there should be mostly accurate depending on the questions asked to obtain those numbers. 

    Professional sales people know how to get a yes from a reluctant customer and is the way you ask the questions. For instance:  “Do you need a bracelet?” Answer: ? but instead,  “Wouldn’t that bracelet look gorgeous on that hand of yours?” Which one do you think is going to get the yes?

    It all depends on how you ask a question. So the first rule is to get an unbiased team to do the survey. I keep pointing out about how one get answers on a questionnaire because I feel 7% is too low. 
    Not for the people that are in the closet but the people that do gay stuff like getting married, buying wedding bands. Coming out is not something you do once but many times.  You have gay people after coming out, not coming fourth when they should have said they were gay. 
    It could be a public or private family gathering or coworkers. For that reason I believe that 7% is way too low. I think a 10% is fairer and there is some evidence of it, including the gay people out in the armed forces. 

    Still 7% is high enough to currently cause a revolution on the business community that cater direct to the customer. You always had the savvy small business man. Companies like Exxon remained ‘anti gay” following the feeling to the Chairman of the board.  But now You have companies like PayPal threatening to cut their work force in Indiana in [which they are a major employer] when the bathroom, religious anti gay law was passed. This was a law that would allow anyone to refuse service on religious grounds to anyone they suspected of being LGBT including Doctors and Paramedics! When you let the religious people dictate terms to what they see as social problems they don’t fuzz around, they go for death, so it is seldom about a cake or just a law. 

    There are always extra and hidden implications to discrimination laws. Coming back to Pay Pal, they never threatened to cut service in countries like Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan where they hang and incarcerate members of the LGBT community for being just that.

    Even during the Republican convention in Ohio they (PayPal) were invited and they accepted to be a speaker there.  A Convention put out by a homophobic GOP party with a platform against Gays that goes back to the Reagan years. The most fowled mouth and full of hatred language filled towards a popular President and Democratic Contender that while I write have 5% plurality against the Convention’s GOP Nominee Donald Trump [40-45%].  So far he isn’t getting any bump in the numbers and I don’t wonder why. What is Pay Pal doing there??  Back to the numbers….

    Bloomberg  posted the following report on business generated by the LGBT percentage yesterday Wednesday July 20:
    The combined buying power of U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults rose about 3.7 percent to $917 billion last year, rivaling the disposable income of other American minority groups, according to an annual analysis.

    The forecast, based on an estimate that as many as 7 percent of adults identify as LGBT, reflects the growing acceptance by society as more people are willing to self-identify, said Bob Witeck, who for the past decade has been conducting the annual study through his Washington-based communications firm.

    “The footprint that gay people have today in the economy is much, much more present, much more visible,” Witeck said in an interview. “Also, companies are responding not just to LGBT purchasing power, they are responding to others who are aligned and sympathetic.”

    Gay political and economic power is coming into sharper focus as advocates battle for full equal rights at the federal level. At the same time, hundreds of laws were introduced in state legislatures this year that are seen as eroding rights for LGBT people. In support of their gay employees, Dow Chemical Co., Salesforce.com, Walt Disney Co. and other companies publicly pressured states to abandon discriminatory laws.
    In comparison, purchasing power for black Americans was estimated at $1.2 trillion last year, with Hispanic buying clout at $1.3 trillion and Asian disposable income at $825 billion, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth. The same methodology is used to estimate LGBT buying power, Witeck said. Total U.S. disposable income last year was $13.5 trillion, according to the Selig Center.

    The LGBT estimates are for adults only, while estimates for blacks and Hispanics include children without income, which reduces the average disposable income available for those bigger demographic groups. Gay Americans are included among those minority groups as well, Witeck said.
    The trend is likely to continue. With legal gay marriage now a year old in the U.S., the purchasing power of LGBT people is starting to look more and more like the purchasing patterns of other groups, Witeck said.

    “It reminds companies how visible the population is today,” he said. “In a year’s time, marriage has changed things forever, and that genie is not going back in the bottle again. Families are now quite evident. They are coming forward to buy things for their households. They’re shopping for cars. They’re buying for the kids they are having.”


    June 19, 2016

    Apple Withholds Donations to RNC Over Trump’s Politics, Others Followed


    ~No advertising Money and No usual corporate donations~


                                                                               

                                                                              


    Apple has informed Republican leaders it will not be supporting the party's 2016 presidential convention in Cleveland next month, according to sources who spoke to Politico today. 

    The decision is reportedly due to comments made by presumptive nominee Donald Trump which the company takes issue with, in particular his controversial positions on the subjects of minorities, women, and immigrants. 

    Apple has traditionally donated technology and cash to both Republican and Democratic conventions, although no funding was provided to the 2012 Democratic event after the party decided against taking corporate donations. 

    It's still unclear whether Apple plans to donate to the upcoming Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer. 

    Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have all said they will provide some support to this year's GOP event, despite general reservations within the tech industry about where the party is headed under Trump's candidacy. 

    Back in March, Apple CEO Tim Cook attended the American Enterprise Institute's annual World Forum, where conversation among tech leaders and Republican representatives kept returning to the topic of the GOP candidate's emergence on the political scene. Sources familiar with the event said that the meeting centered more around how and why Trump had attracted support, rather than how to stop him. 

    Trump has previously singled out Apple for its encryption stance and its refusal to help the FBI unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, and at one point suggested people should boycott the company's products unless it complied with the federal agency's demands. 

    It was later revealed that Trump had tweeted the comment using an iPhone. 

    No indication was given by the two sources Politico spoke to that Trump's criticism of Apple was behind its decision to withhold support for the Republican event. 

    Apple will not be alone in its refusal to help with GOP convention efforts. Earlier this month, HP announced it would not provide funding, after coming under pressure from activists at ColorofChange.org. 

    "We want them to divest from hate; we want them to pull all their money and support," said Mary Alice, field director for Free Press Action Fund, which is part of the anti-Trump campaign. Tech companies backing the convention need to be "thinking hard about where they put their brand, and whether they want to align their brand with racism, hatred and misogyny," she told Politico. 

     

    November 19, 2015

    Kohl’s Celebrate the Family Spirit with an Inclusive ad showing a gay couple



     All together now, Kohl’s gets on board the inclusivity train with a brand-new ad that features a gay couple as well as a diverse family having a fabulous time around the dinner table. Too many LGBT people are still denied such a sense of welcome due to lack of acceptance and on the spirit of commercial acceptance we celebrate Kohl.
    This week, we’ve already seen Mattel release a Barbie commercial featuring a boy, let’s hope we’re just getting started with what the 2015 season has in store.  

    September 30, 2015

    Economic Report: LGBT Inclusion is Good for Economic Growth, Productivity and Profitability



                                                                          
                                                                       


    Open, inclusive and diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth. This report presents the evidence base that supports this: it demonstrates that businesses thrive in tolerant societies and that the spread of anti-LGB&T policies runs counter to the interests of business and economic development.

    The report draws upon the global perspectives of the companies supporting Open For Business, and they have contributed their experience and expertise on the business case for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) inclusion. It also incorporates the perspectives of activists in countries that are on the front-line of LGB&T discrimination, to ensure it is grounded in local country realities.

    There are many strands of work which have studied the subject from different angles, including economic growth and development, business performance and productivity, and human resources and talent management. This report brings these together for the first time. As a result, this report represents the most comprehensive evidence base yet published on this subject.

    The report begins with an overview of the Global Situation: in many parts of the world, recent years have seen a growing a culture of respect for LGB&T individuals, and their ability to fully participate in society is protected by law. In other parts of the world, there is rising antagonism towards LGB&T people, who are suffering discrimination at the hands of politicians and lawmakers.

    The report then looks at the economic opportunities associated with LGB&T inclusion, and the business risks of operating in territories that practice discrimination against LGB&T individuals. These opportunities and risks can be summarized as follows:

    Economic opportunity

    A. Economic performance
    Stronger growth and higher levels of entrepreneurialism
    B. Business performance
    Superior performance, innovation and profitability.
    C. Individual performance
    Greater employee productivity and contribution.

    open-for-business.org

    June 11, 2015

    In Rush to Judgment Rev. Graham Moves His $ from Gay friendly to Gay friendly Banks


     FGraham-flicker photo

     
    Evangelical pastor Franklin Graham announced yesterday that he intends to “fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community.” And as part of the effort, Graham is starting with his … bank.
     
    MSNBC’s Jane C. Timm reported yesterday on Graham’s new financial boycott.
    Rev. Franklin Graham is calling for a boycott of gay-friendly businesses, beginning by pulling his ministry’s accounts from Wells Fargo after the bank ran an ad featuring a gay couple.
     
    Graham, son of the famed evangelical pastor Billy Graham, runs the church his father started, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which had net assets of $295 million in 2014, according to the most recent data available on the ministry’s website.
    Apparently, what set Graham off was this lovely ad, released by Wells Fargo in April. For those who can’t watch clips online, the minute-long commercial shows a lesbian couple learning sign-language before meeting a young deaf girl they’re adopting.
     
    Where Graham sees “moral decay,” some of us see perhaps the sweetest banking commercial of all time.
     
    “It has dawned on me that we don’t have to do business with them,” Graham wrote in a Facebook post, referring to Wells Fargo. “At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank…. This is one way we as Christians can speak out – we have the power of choice.”
     
    That’s largely true. If Graham is outraged by a commercial showing a loving couple adopting a deaf child, he’s certainly free to do his banking elsewhere. It’s a free country.
     
    But the punch-line to this story came a little later, when we learned about Graham’s new bank.
     
    Right Wing Watch explained that the evangelical pastor is moving his ministry’s accounts to BB&T, another North Carolina-based bank. Oops.
    Graham may not have done much research, as BB&T has received an 80 percent score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and this year is the sponsor of the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade, along with the chief sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride’s “Legacy Couples” program, which celebrates same-sex couples in “committed relationships of 10 years or longer.”
     
    A bank spokesman said the company hopes to “support the individuals and organizations that broaden our perspectives and strengthen the diverse fabric of our communities. That’s why BB&T is proud to be a part of this day of pride and celebration of the 2015 Legacy Couples.”
     
    In fact, BB&T hosted a same-sex couple’s wedding reception earlier this year “in a makeshift chapel at event sponsor BB&T Bank South Beach branch.”
    Yep, the right-wing pastor is “fighting the tide of moral decay” by moving his considerable assets from one morally depraved financial institution to an entirely different morally depraved financial institution.

    June 19, 2014

    BP Lord Browne Thought Gay was wrong until outed by his toy boyfriend


     When Lord Browne was in charge of BP, had anyone told him he would one day invite a journalist into his home to discuss his sexuality, he would have said they were insane. Homosexuality was the last thing he expected to talk about in public; after all, he never spoke of it even in private. The former CEO spent half a century in the closet, so terrified of letting his secret slip that he never talked about himself at all, confining his conversational repertoire instead to "the news, and politics, and business. That's what you'd talk about."
    Lord Browne with his first boyfriend, Jeff Chevalier

    With his first boyfriend, Jeff Chevalier, who went on to out the then BP boss. Photograph: Daily Mirror


    But since a Sunday tabloid outed him seven years ago, his life has become a series of unimaginable surprises. For Browne, the revelation has been how much less homophobic the world is than he had always feared. He has now written a book about homosexuality within the business world, and the revelation for many readers will be how homophobic that world still is.
    The Glass Closet tells the story of Browne's 38-year career and double life, which began when he joined BP in 1969, and ended with a single phone call from the Mail on Sunday in January 2007, informing him that it was about to publish a kiss'n'tell by a former Brazilian escort, Jeff Chevalier. He had been Browne's first and only boyfriend; the pair met in 2003 on a gay escort website and were together for almost three years. But in public, Browne was a heterosexual bachelor.
    In a panic, he applied for an injunction, but told his own lawyers a fateful lie, that he and Chevalier had met jogging in Battersea park, which, once submitted to the court, could constitute perjury. Browne soon retracted the untruth, but by then it was too late; the injunction was quashed, the story was printed, and Browne resigned. Six months before his 60th birthday, and for the first time in his adult life, he was suddenly no longer Mr BP but instead a very publicly out gay man. His reason for writing The Glass Closet is, he says, quite simple. “I wouldn't want anyone else to go through what I went through." 
    This motivation to spare others is common among victims of injustice who become campaigners, but it's about the only thing Browne has in common with a typical activist. He lives in a town house on Cheyne Row in Chelsea, where a butler leads me through rooms that could pass for an art gallery and out across a courtyard to a private library purpose-built to hold his antique book collection. A chauffeur-driven Bentley is waiting to whisk him off to the launch of a Matisse exhibition when we have finished (he is a Tate galleries trustee). Browne is meticulously groomed, courteous and so flawlessly formal that I get the impression he wouldn't even know how to be casual. To call him an activist feels like an implausible label, and he agrees at once.
    "I've never thought of myself as a gay activist. It's a very grand title. There are people who've done some extraordinary things as activists, such asPeter Tatchell. I'm not in the same class as them."
    When Browne talks about the fears still keeping businesspeople in the closet, he is a powerful advocate, applying the same logic he once used on mergers and markets. Yet talking about his own emotional world, he sounds like someone trying to learn a foreign language. It's not that he's reluctant to talk about his feelings, but after a lifetime of self-censorship, it's as if he hasn't a clue how to.
    Browne knew he was gay by the time he left boarding school, and didn't tell a soul. His mother, a Roma Jew, was an Auschwitz survivor and passed to her son an abiding fear that to be different was to invite persecution. "I internalised that to mean being gay was basically wrong, because if you got caught it would be very dangerous." He studied physics at Cambridge, but clocked up none of the social or romantic experiences most students take for granted, and graduated straight to a job with BP. His first posting was to the wilds of the Arctic Circle, where the brutal machismo of oil industry culture became abundantly clear to him.
    In Browne's mind, there was no choice. He had to keep his sexuality secret, or his career would be over. "You had to blend in, be chameleon-like, so no one would notice your private life. But you could be noticed in your work life, so you sublimated a lot into that. People say minorities have to overachieve, and I guess I did." Once in a blue moon he would sneak into a gay bar, which was thrilling and terrifying, but his public identity became subsumed in BP. "Eventually it became very much two lives, and it was quite exciting."
    He began to think of himself as a sort of spy – "James Bond-style" – and became quite addicted to the jeopardy. "It became exciting, and I would say to myself that it taught me skills that were useful in other parts of life." He told himself that hyper-vigilance and steely self-control made him a better businessman – "but this is probably quite a self-justification." He grins. Does it sound crazy now? "Totally. But back then it obviously looked pretty sensible."
    To be fair, I don't think it was entirely fanciful. I've seldom met anyone who gives so little of himself away (I would hate to play him at poker), so he must have been a nightmare to negotiate against in business. Then again, the psychological isolation that made him so inscrutable may well also explain why at times he could be staggeringly obtuse. How else to explain why he thought he would deflect speculation about his absence of a spouse by living with his mother, and taking her as his date to company events? He was, he smiles, blissfully unaware that deploying one's mother for cover was a well-known gay cliche.
    Early in his career, he thought perhaps he could quietly come out once he was further up the ladder. But the higher he climbed, the bigger his public profile grew. In 1995 BP was just a struggling national company, but its new CEO launched a series of audacious takeovers and mergers that turned it into the second largest oil corporation on the planet. Browne became known as "the Sun King", described as Britain's most successful businessman, and almost certainly its most highly paid. Critics accused him of pursuing a reckless cost-cutting regime; budget cuts were linked to an explosion at a Texan refinery in 2005 that killed 15 workers, and to the2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, even though this happened on CEO Tony Hayward's watch (Browne left BP in 2007). An earlier spill, in Alaska in 2006, might have meant curtains for a less revered leader, but Browne's reputation made him all but unassailable.
    His devotion to the job left little time for friends. His father, an army officer, had died in 1980; an only child, he was overwhelmed by loneliness when his mother died in 2000. For the first time in his life, aged 52, he risked a relationship with a man.
    Lord Browne with his motherLord Browne with his mother. He first risked a relationship with a man after her death in 2000. Photograph: Courtesy of John Browne
    To anyone of Browne's generation, what happened next may be perfectly recognisable. To anyone under 25, it will sound incomprehensible. When Browne fell in love with Chevalier, he didn't announce their relationship, nor even acknowledge it to his closest friends. The words, "I am gay" had passed his lips only twice in his life, and when Chevalier moved in, Browne didn't even mention his new domestic arrangement to his butler.
    "Life back then was a series of non-statements – not understatements but non-statements – that everyone walked around with," he tries to explain. For example, when Browne was invited to appear on Desert Island Discsin 2006, he and BP's head of press worked together for weeks on what to say if the question "Are you gay?" came up, without either ever asking or answering it themselves. Chevalier would sometimes accompany Browne to social events, and met Tony and Cherie Blair, Jude Law and Sienna Miller, Elton John. "But it was done very, very carefully. If I thought the host would ask any questions, I'd avoid the situation." Amazingly, no one ever did. "This may sound bizarre," Browne says, smiling, "but it's surprising how people behave. If you say nothing, often they say nothing, and nothing will happen. It's a series of non-statements and people draw their own conclusions. But nothing is clear. Nothing is said."
    Browne thought he was being careful, but now sees it differently. "A friend said, 'Well, of course what you were really doing was daring people to pull you out, and you didn't know you were, but you shouldn't have been surprised when it happened.' And I think, now, that probably the time was coming when what I was doing, and who I was, was becoming unsustainable."
    It never occurred to him that Chevalier might betray him. After they broke up, Browne continued to support him financially for nine months, but once the funds stopped, Chevalier demanded more. The implicit threat in an email – "I do not want to embarrass you, but…" – should have been obvious. Yet Browne, who had lived his whole life in a state of high paranoid alert, failed to notice. "I simply didn't register what was going on. I couldn't believe he'd sell our story, so I ignored him." How could he have been so naive? "Probably just because I'd never experienced it. My level of naivety in this area must have been incredibly high." But he must have been aware of the tabloids' enthusiasm for a kiss'n'tell? "Well, yes. But you can always say to yourself, that won't be me."
    Yet fear of exposure had overshadowed his whole life. "Absolutely. And in business, I would have been well aware of any possibility of risk. But in my private life, an entirely different approach took place, and I think it's because of my lack of experience in relationships."
    He was still in shock when he instructed lawyers to apply for an injunction, but that wasn't why he told them a lie. He'd been telling the lie for years, if anyone asked how he and Chevalier met, because the truth felt too embarrassing. "I think I deluded myself that actually it was such a well-worn excuse that it was almost real. I only realised 10 days later the sheer stupidity of what I'd done."

    He told BP's chairman that he wished to resign immediately, but was legally forbidden to discuss the case, so couldn't say why, or tell anyone what was happening. He spent the next four months ostensibly preparing to hand over to his successor while secretly battling through the courts to block publication, until eventually the injunction was lifted in May. He resigned within the hour.
    Did he have to? No one told him to – and some colleagues urged him not to. Could he have survived the scandal? "I don't know, but I knew I wanted to go. In my own mind I was very clear. There were the two things that were wrong: I lied on the court paper, and the circumstances were going to create a furore. I didn't want to get into the situation where someone was saying, 'When will he go? Resign, resign, resign.'" He has never regretted the decision? "No, absolutely not. I'm very pleased that I took the moment as a full stop. I was ready to change everything."
    Seven years on, he still looks stunned by the avalanche of supportive letters and emails that came pouring in, his first intimation that the world might not mind him being gay after all: "It was just amazing." Friends, former colleagues, politicians, journalists and strangers offered support and advice; there were "tragic letters" from men who had been imprisoned for importuning in Hyde Park, and luminaries including Chris Patten, Norman Foster and Lord Puttnam wrote a public letter of support to the Financial Times. "I had no idea they were going to do that," he marvels. "Just extraordinary." He has since encountered a few "tight smiles" from businesspeople who clearly "want to avoid me", but the disapproval he used to dread now barely seems to register. One of the many strangers who wrote to him was a 32-year-old Vietnamese banker. They met for a drink, fell in love, and have been together since. For the very first time, Browne is one half of a public gay couple.
    He remains firmly part of the establishment. Ennobled in 2001, he sits as a crossbencher, advises ministers on the appointment of nonexecutives to government departments' boards, and wrote the review of tuition fees that led to their trebling under the coalition. (In fact, Browne recommended going even further and abolishing any cap on fees.) At the same time, he is chairman of Cuadrilla, the shale gas exploration company, and thinks public fears about fracking are a "bit like coming out really, you know, just worst fears. Fears that perhaps don't materialise." There was controversy late last year when he appeared to contradict the government line that fracking would reduce UK energy bills; and, though Cuadrilla has never said it would frack at Balcombe in West Sussex, the scene of fierce protests, the company was given the go-ahead last month to test for oil. So he certainly isn't turning into Peter Tatchell – yet the simple act of coming out has made him feel like a completely different person.
    "The transformation was quite extraordinary for me, because I had to confront who I was, and talk about who I was. I'd never done that before – I always talked about myself just as someone who represented a business. And now I have changed."
    Lord Browne outside the BP HQ after having resigned in May 2007Lord Browne leaving BP HQ after resigning in May 2007, having admitted he had lied to a court about his private life. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
    Had we met before May 2007, in what way would he have seemed different? "Well, everybody says I smile a lot more. I used to be more reserved but now I'm relaxed talking about any subject; sexuality is something I'm very happy to talk about any time." He and his boyfriend went whitewater rafting in Patagonia recently, "which was unbelievable for me, wonderful". He'd quite like to get married, but his partner objects that this is too conventional; for now, a wedding remains "a work in progress".
    Had Browne's story been unique, he would not have written the book. But the statistics indicated to him that the corporate closet must be crowded. British attitudes towards homosexuality have undergone such a sea change in the past 15 years that in many professions – politics, the media – inclusivity is now taken for granted. The less widely reported, more troubling story Browne decided to tell is how little the corporate world has changed.
    Only half of all LGBT employees in the US are estimated to be out at work, and in this country a third are estimated to be in the closet. There is only one openly gay CEO of a FTSE 100, and only one in America's S&P – and these are meant to be two of the world's most progressive countries. Browne is a businessman first and foremost, so he recognises that other professions have changed, but it is industry leaders who, he hopes, will read his book. He was taken aback by the culture of fear and prejudice he uncovered. Interviewees were offered a guarantee of anonymity, and even then closeted businessmen and women told him they were too frightened to talk.
    You begin to see why when you read it. In 2011, an American sociologist made fake applications for 1,800 advertised vacancies, submitting two essentially identical applications for each job, except that one mentioned membership of a gay student organisation. Gay applicants turned out to be 40% less likely to get an interview. An entrepreneur in North Carolina created the world's largest retailer of china and crystal, with annual revenues in excess of £80m, but was boycotted and abused by customers and churches when he came out. A 2009 survey asked closeted workers why they didn't come out: because they feared they would be sacked, replied one in five. Yet when prejudice is exposed in high places, there is public outcry: last month Brendan Eich, the CEO of Mozilla Firefox,resigned after it emerged that he had donated to anti-gay rights political movements and users threatened a boycott.
    Homophobia isn't just a problem for gay employees, Browne argues – it's a problem for business. He doesn't concern himself with appeals to morality or equality, but instead keeps hammering home his unshakable conviction that firms that allow their staff to be open and honest are more profitable than companies that make gay employees live a lie. Browne used to think he was doing BP a service by staying in the closet. It was only after he came out that he realised what a colossal waste of energy it had been, and how much more of himself could have been devoted to BP had he been able to be open.
    In the book, he quotes a gay businesswoman making the case for introducing a non-discrimination policy to cover sexual orientation. "I want you to go back to your offices," she told her heterosexual bosses. "I want you to remove all vestiges of your family, particularly your spouse. Put the pictures in the drawer and take off your wedding band. You cannot talk about your family, and where you were on vacation. And if your spouse or partner is seriously ill, you are afraid to acknowledge the relationship, because you are afraid you might lose your job. Do all of that – and see how productive you are."
    Lord Browne with Tony Blair and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006With then prime minister Tony Blair and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. Photograph: Reuters
    In the UK and US, Browne found most leaders professed at once to agree. "It's not often the arguments that are countered; it's the execution that gets messed up. Everyone says, 'Absolutely! That's the right thing to do.' And you say, 'Well, fine, let's do it.' Then nothing happens." More than 90% of Fortune 500 companies, he points out, already have anti-discrimination policies. "So I think we've got to move on from the policy, or philosophy, into, 'How do you get this done?' Business can make it much easier for people to come out, and feel safe to be who they are."
    The classic mistake, he says, is to devolve responsibility to an HR department. "HR managers are not CEOs; they're not there to set the tone; the tone has to come from the very top." It's no use simply saying their business is gay-friendly. Chief executives need to give speeches about inclusion, make the diversity officer's role an executive one, create LGBT resource groups and run "allies' programmes", where heterosexual employees sign up to support colleagues who want to come out.
    The key, he argues, is to make it easy for gay employees to come out at the beginning of their careers. By the time attitudes in Britain began changing in the 90s, Browne had been living a lie for so long that the deceit itself had become as much of a secret as his sexuality, and the prospect of disclosure even more unthinkable. "You invest in the duplicity to the point where you can't disinvest. You know, it just builds one layer on another and then the time is never right. So how do you back out of it? The answer is, you have to take one step. If in doubt, come out. But come out early, before you've made this investment."
    Gay sex between consenting adults is still outlawed in 76 countries. On a recent visit to the Middle East, someone Browne knows well was highly critical of the book. "He said, 'Why did you write this? It's not a good idea because it's nobody's business, and societies are bigger than individuals, and really individuals should keep it to themselves if they don't conform with society.' A fairly classic portrayal, I think," Browne says with a smile, "of society in the Middle East."
    He thinks Uganda is probably the worst place in the world to be gay right now, but Iran and Saudi Arabia come a close second, and he is anxious to be clear that he is not encouraging anyone to risk their life or liberty by coming out. "What you cannot do is inadvertently expose one of your employees to danger, to the point where they could die. And business cannot change the law. But I think it can occasionally nudge things along, by demonstrating codes of behaviour, and by giving people a safe place to be themselves."
    Had somebody else written The Glass Closet while Browne was still in charge of BP, would it have persuaded him to come out? "Probably not," he admits. "I would probably have said, 'Well, this will be very helpful to others, but doesn't apply to me.' I mean, I wish I'd come out. But I don't think I would have."
    Browne seems to be enjoying his new identity as, if not an activist, then perhaps a gay business advocate. He hasn't become a member of the gay glitterati, and I don't see him on a gay pride float with a megaphone any time soon. But he radiates contentment, and thinks if his mother could see him now, it would "take her a little while" to get used to having a gay son, "but she would be happy".
    Is there anything about life in the closet that he misses? Browne lets out a great hoot of laughter. "Absolutely nothing, no. I’m just very pleased to be out."
    • Decca Aitkenhead spoke to Lord Browne in April 2014.

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