Leaders & Laggards – Business Courts the LGBT Consumer

In a conversation with a senior executive from a Fortune 500 company the other day, he told me that companies in his industry “don’t have to worry about the gay dollar”.

Frankly, I was surprised. Data from marketing and employee surveys indicate just the opposite.

1) The LGBT market in the U.S. alone should top $1 Trillion in 2015. Friends, families and other allies add importantly to that number.

2) LGBT consumers pay attention to which companies are aligned with modern principles and practices that they care about—equal pay, benefits and opportunity on the job, and the ability to bring one’s “whole self” to work, not to mention a broader respect for LGBT individuals families in the markets they serve and communities where they operate. Here are the data from a recent CMI-Harris Interactive survey:

• 55% of American LGBT consumers (that’s about $550 billion) will purposely choose to purchase from companies that are seen as supportive of LGBT rights.

• 70% are willing to pay more for LGBT inclusive and supportive brands.

• Nearly 80% of LGBT consumers, their friends and families, expressed a willingness to switch to more inclusive/LGBT-supportive brands just on that basis alone.

3)  The competition for the best and the brightest talent is fierce—in every industry. Recruiters universally report that they are grilled on numerous questions—How green is our company? What do we do in the CSR space? What’s our record on diversity and inclusion? to purchase from companies that are seen as supportive of LGBT rights. switch to more inclusive/LGBT-supportive brands just on that basis alone.

The table below (compiled from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index) shows there are great companies in every industry that have strong engagements with the LGBT community—both inside their company and in the marketplace. Companies that lag these leaders choose to put at risk a significant market segment.

For complete metrics and scores go to Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index 2014:

These realities are extremely important for every CEO. Human Resource, Marketing and Public Affairs leads will see these issues crop up in their work as well. Ultimately, no company can afford to leave the “gay dollar” on the table.

In future posts, we’ll look at real-life examples of companies that have successfully repositioned themselves to capture their “unfair share” of the gay market as one Chief Marketing Officer boasted to me not too long ago.

If your company isn’t where you think it should be, or you’re not sure you’re moving forward as effectively as you should, call us.

We can help.

Leaders Score Good/OK Score Laggards Score
Boeing 100 General Dynamics 85 Alliant Techsystems 50
Raytheon 100 Honeywell 85 Exelis 30
Lockheed Martin 100 L-3 Communications 30
Goodrich Corp. 0
General Motors 100 Visteon 80 Goodyear Tire & Rubber 15
Ford 100 Hertz Global 65 Penske Automotive Group 15
Toyota 100
Subaru 90
Banking & Finance
Bank of America 100 Fed. Reserve of Boston 80 E*Trade Financial 55
BMO 100 Fed. Reserve of Cleveland 80 H&R Block 35
DeutscheBank 100 Ally Financial 15
Goldman Sachs 100
Food, Beverages & Groceries
Coca-Cola 100 Heinz 85 Burger King Corp. 55
Kellogg 100 Nestle 85 Domino’s Pizza Inc. 35
McDonalds 90 Dole Food Co. 30
Tyson Foods Inc. 15
Aetna 100 CVS 85 Amerigroup Corp. 30
Walgreens 100 Express Scripts 70 Coventry Health Care 15
Riteaid 60
Cummins 100 Deere 65 MeadWestvaco Corp. 45
GE 100 Emerson Electric 60 Oshkosh Corp. 15
Catepillar 90 Mars Inc. 60
Mining & Metals
Alcoa 100 Mosaic 70 Occidental Petroleum 45
Newmont 60 Reliance Steel & Aluminum 15
Oil & Gas
Chevron 100 Hess Corp. 40
 Shell  95 Exxon Mobil Corp. -25
BMS 100 AstraZeneca 85 Sanofi-Aventis US 45
Eli Lilly 100 Hospira 65 Allergan Inc. 15
Pfizer 100 Amgen 60 Gilead Sciences Inc. 0
Retail & Consumer Goods
3M 100 Walmart 80 Autozone Inc. 30
Proctor & Gamble 100 Toys ‘R’ Us 75 Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. 30
Unilever 100 Overstock.com 70 Hasbro Inc. 25
Kohl’s Corp. 15
Alcatel-Lucent 100 Avaya 80 Earthlink Inc. 55
ATT 100 Nortel Networks Corp. 50