Some businesses clearly support their LGBT employees and customers, some clearly don’t — and then there’s a group somewhere in the muddled middle. For those, you’ll want to proceed with caution.
STOP HERE: Chevron
NOT THERE: ExxonMobil
The worst company on the entire Corporate Equality Index (an annual list from the Human Rights Campaign of the businesses with the most LGBT-supportive policies) is ExxonMobil.
For two consecutive years, the company has scored a -25 out of 100 possible points, which is the lowest score ever received by any corporation. We put ExxonMobil on the cover of The Advocate this year to help draw attention to the company’s terrible record.
Days later, the company made headlines by extending eligibility for health care plans to the legal spouses of its gay and lesbian employees. But while out doing your holiday shopping, don’t line up at these pumps just yet. With the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and subsequent changes to who the federal government considers married, ExxonMobil’s old policy had arguably become illegal. The company’s shareholders have voted over and over against changing its antidiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity. That hasn’t changed.
Meanwhile, Chevron had a perfect score from the HRC in both 2012 and 2013. Shell is a close second with a 95.
Proceed With Caution: Urban Outfitters
SHOP HERE: Don Our Gay Apparel
This holiday shopping season, the most fashionable attire comes from stores that are LGBT-friendly. Kenneth Cole, through many tongue-in-cheek ad campaigns, is a longtime supporter of LGBT people. The company has collaborated with organizations such as HRC to raise funds and awareness with pro-marriage equality apparel like the “Get Married” T-shirt. It boasts an LGBT-friendly workplace environment,
The HRC Buyer’s Guide has also given positive reviews to such retailers as Aeropostale, Tiffany & Co., Armani Exchange, and Coach for including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression within their nondiscrimination policies as well as for above-and-beyond supportiveness of LGBT employees and organizations. And pet guardians, be advised: PetSmart also scored good marks, so even gifts for Rover can help support LGBT-friendly businesses.
Then there’s Nike, which has thrown boatloads of corporate money to marriage equality in Washington and Oregon as well as fostered an LGBT coalition within the company and lobbied for nondiscrimination laws for LGBT employees.
Proceed With Caution: Radio Shack
Your local, in-a-pinch electronics store at least has anti-discrimination protections for gay and lesbian workers and provides domestic-partner health insurance benefits to employees’ same-sex parters. But Radio Shack doesn’t yet have a provision to protect transgender employees, nor does it guarantee them health coverage, or offer LGBT-focused diversity training. A number of businesses lack these policies, but in this case, if you’re fixing to buy an iPad for someone on your Nice list and you don’t mind braving the masses, remember that Best Buy has a perfect score on HRC’s equality index.
SNACK HERE: Starbucks
NOT THERE: Chick-fil-A
Remember the so-called Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day last year? Fox News commentator Mike Huckabee sent thousands of people into jammed waiting lines and transformed the fast-food chicken chain into an antigay symbol. Don’t want gays and lesbians to be able to get married? Eat more chicken. No other mainstream brand is more associated with opposition to marriage equality. But that isn’t even what started the LGBT outrage with Chick-fil-A. The company had been donating money to antigay causes, including those that had backed reparative therapy, giving $2 million in 2010 alone via its Winshape Foundation. Now the company has backed off giving to most of the questionable groups.
Despite its tweaks in charitable giving, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy once again made his views clear after the Supreme Court ruled this year against the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 in California. “Sad day for our nation,” he had written on Twitter before deleting the note. “Founding fathers would be ashamed of our gen. to abandon wisdom of the ages re: cornerstone of strong societies.” When you inevitably find yourself in the mall, which so many Chick-fil-A’s call home, try shopping around the food court.
SHOP HERE: Online Retailers
Amazon.com is consistently at the head of the e-shopping pack. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, has pledged millions in support of marriage equality. Faith Driven Consumer, an antigay religious-based website that ranks companies on “Biblical world view,” specifically criticizes Amazon for being a “staunch supporter of the homosexual, bisexual and transgender political and social agenda in the workplace and beyond,” which is a positive attribute in the LGBT world view.
Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com, has written for The Advocate on several occasions, in order to voice his support for marriage equality and push for an all-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
And for shipping needs, UPS is a proven advocate of the LGBT community. Earning a rare 100 from HRC, the company even took a firm stand against the antigay policies of the Boy Scouts of America by instituting a policy that blocked donations to the BSA and other discriminatory organizations. With an impressive HRC score of 85 for its support of LGBT people, FedEx also ranks as a company worth endorsing.