Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Corporate America gets it!

Corporate America is coming into the light! My household subscribes to "Out", "Out Traveler" and the "Advocate" magazines and it is VERY interesting to see the increase in ad space in these magazines over the years. 10 years ago you had to hunt for any kind of ad outside of the gay community (and of course the personals). Today these magazines are filled with everything from drug companies to clothing, cars, and those smelly perfume samples just like you would find in any other mainstream magazine. I guess those billions of gay dollars speak pretty loudly!

"The Wall Street Journal calls the gay and lesbian community a "Dream Market". The 2005 Simmons Market Research Study estimates annual national buying power of the gay community at over 600 billion dollars."

Of course the opposition out there try over and over to boycott any company that is supportive of gay rights issues. We can see how well that is going for them. The "American Family Association" (AFA) headed by Don Wildmon has generated a lot of hype about companies such as Ford Motor Company paying for ads in gay magazines and support of Gay Pride events around the nation. The AFA claims responsibility for Ford's declining sales this year. (emphasis mine)

Ford Sales Drop 11.6%. Homosexual Groups More Important Than Support For Employees, Dealers.

Homosexuals give Ford no public support despite falling sales due to AFA boycott

The boycott of Ford Motor Company continues to be effective. Sales in August dropped 11.6%. This follows drops of 5% in March, 7% in April, 2% in May, 6.8% in June and 4.1% in July.

Of course what they fail to mention is that car sales as a whole have dropped by 8% this year and sales of SUV, pickups, and other gas guzzling vehicles have dropped by 22%. Fords largest product line is exactly these types of gas guzzlers. Meanwhile Toyota, maker of the gas-electric hybrid Prius, sales are up 17%. So in the reality based community Ford is succumbing to market demands across the board for vehicles that have higher fuel efficiency - just like the other American car companies.

Which brings us to this piece from CNN Money:

Corporate America backs gay rights
A trickle of corporate support for gay and lesbian workers that began about 15 years ago has turned into a flood.

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Most of America's best-known companies are reaching out to gay and lesbian workers, as well as gay consumers, despite the criticism they get from conservative Christian groups.

Consider: No Fortune 500 company offered health benefits to the domestic partners of gay and lesbian workers until Levi Strauss did so in 1992. Today, more than half of the Fortune 500 offer those benefits.

Beyond that, blue-chip companies recruit gay MBAs. They seek out suppliers owned by gay and lesbian business people. And they advertise in gay media such as Logo, the cable TV network launched last year by Viacom.

There are so many companies now that support the GLBT community that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a non-supportive company. The Human Rights Campaign recently published the "Corporate Equity Index" which shows the rankings of corporations on how they treat their GLBT employees as well as the GLBT community at large. You can use this list to help make purchasing decisions by supporting those organizations that support our community. (Coincidentally Ford, GM and Daimler Chrysler are all ranked at 100% so why isn't the AFA boycotting all of them? I guess the fundies have to drive something and God forbid it should be made by foreigners...)

Here in Spokane there is a great resource for GLBT owned and GLBT friendly businesses in the Inland Northwest Business Alliance (INBA) Community Resource Directory. This is the place where everyone should go to first when making any kind of purchasing decision. Support those in our community that support us! When you go to a business that you found in the INBA Directory mention where you got the name so that these organizations know that their advertising dollars are being spent wisely. It takes a community to build these businesses and in turn those businesses support the community.

What does it all mean? What is the conclusion? On the national level there are two possibilities, these companies see a need to support all of their employees and maintain a diverse, supportive environment not only in the work place but in the community as well. OR Corporations are enticed by the 600 billion dollar spending of the GLBT community and will do whatever is necessary to get a piece of that pie. I tend to believe the former but all things being equal, what difference does it make?