Written by Danielle Agugliaro
These companies not only welcome employees of all identities, but will continuously stand behind them.
To create the best workplace culture and community, every employee should feel supported and valued by their employer. However, a study done by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) found that 46% of LGBTQ workers say they are closeted at work, and the top reason they don’t report negative comments they hear is that they don’t think anything will be done about it.
Supporting LGBTQ employees can look different from company to company, but the main goal is making sure employees are uplifted and treated like a valued part of the office community regardless of how they identify. Employee resource groups, specific benefits for same-sex couples and transgender employees, and supporting LGBTQ organizations are all ways that prove a company not only welcome employees of all gender identities, but will continuously stand behind them. We rounded up 31 companies that use these initiatives and more to support their LGBTQ employees.
Adobe has an overarching initiative “Adobe For All” that encompasses all of their ERGs and promotes an inclusive culture company-wide, including a summit where leaders speak directly to employees about the progress they’re making in diversity & inclusion. In 2019 the summit, held in San Jose but live-streamed to all employees, featured guest speakers, inspirational employee speakers, and breakout sessions. Adobe is also a strong supporter of Pride activities throughout the summer, participating in events like marches, panel discussions, networking events, and fundraising activities. In 2019 alone they raised over $20,000 for LGBTQ charities including Encircle, The Trevor Project, and San Francisco Aids Foundation.
This professional services company boasts a global ally program with more than 110,000 members to support LGBTQ employees. They show their support as a global company with LGBTQ employee resource groups in over 45 countries by joining with partners to help operationalize the UN’s LGBTI standards of workplace equality. They also performed their own research on the benefits of an LGBTQ-inclusive workplace to make up for the lack of data on the topic. Through this research they found out facts like how LGBTQ employees are three times as likely to advance to a senior management position or higher.
American Airlines regularly gets recognized as one of HRC’s Best Places to Work, and is only one of three airlines that make the cut. They put a focus on expanding their LGBTQ support to not only their own employees, but also the suppliers they utilize. This way they’re able to promote LGBTQ-owned businesses among other diverse and minority-owned businesses. AA also participates in supplier-diversity events including match-making sessions and business fairs to provide networking opportunities to their suppliers, especially smaller companies.
Apple promotes a company culture of inclusion with over 25,000 employees participating in the company’s ERGs, including Pride@Apple. In 2019, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was awarded the GLSEN Champion award for his work fighting for LGBTQ rights through company initiatives and community outreach while at Apple. Every year Apple releases a new special edition Apple Watch for Pride and through that effort donates to LGBTQ organizations like GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, and more. Apple also often joins the conversation when LGBTQ rights are at stake, including joining a Title VII amicus filing and signing an HRC letter opposing anti-LGBTQ legislation in March 2019.
AstraZeneca, a multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, has received numerous awards for the company’s commitment to their LGBTQ employees. These awards include being named one of DiversityInc’s Top Companies for LGBT Employees in 2020 and a Stonewall Diversity Champion. In 2020, the company also received a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s index of Best Places to Work for LGBTQ equality. One of the ways AstraZeneca supports their LGBTQ employees is through AZPride, their unified global employee resource group network that works to create trainings, drive visibility, and promote more inclusive policies at the organization. AZPride also launched their “This is Me” campaign to encourage employees to share their stories as members of and allies to the LGBTQ community, which were then shared across AstraZeneca’s internal and external content channels. Not content with the status quo, the company continuously strives to do more, even joining the United Nations Free and Equal Standards for Business to stop discriminition against the LGBTQ community.
Bain has routinely been awarded one of the HRC’s “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” since 2007. They make it a regular part of their workplace to offer numerous events throughout the year specifically for LGBTQ employees like speakers, social outings, networking events, and mentorship programs. They also uniquely offer a level system to their LGBTQ employee resource group to accommodate for employees that might not feel ready to share their identity with the whole workplace. From level one, “completely open and out” to level three being out only to an ERG administrator, employees are able to find community and support at whatever level they feel comfortable.
Coca-Cola has proved its longstanding support to the LGBTQ community for over a decade and has received 100% on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index every year since 2006. Over the years they’ve continued to update their culture and policies in order to be a resource to their LGBTQ employees, including offering transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage starting in 2011. Coca-Cola also puts its money behind legislation, working in multiple states to fight against anti-LGBTQ Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) legislation.
Converse, the beloved shoe company best known for their iconic Chuck Taylor All-Stars, has been releasing extensive Pride collections every year since 2015. Since that time, the company has donated over $1.3 million to various LGBTQ organizations around the world. The 2021 collection, which will benefit partners like the Ali Forney Center and It Gets Better Project, was inspired by five All-Stars from around the world who shared their journeys to joy and self-acceptance. These efforts are made possible due to the company’s overall commitment to diversity and inclusion. Converse has worked to recruit more inclusively and considers “using their products to enable social commitments” as a core activity. They also offer several employee resource groups to bring people together, including the Converse Pride Network.
Daimler, one of the world’s largest producers of premium cars and commercial vehicles, has a strong commitment to supporting their LGBTQ employees and the community at large. The company supports LGBTQ campaigns like Free & Equal from the United Nations, and encourages employees to be open about their sexual orientation and identity. Employees are also encouraged to join one of the company’s multiple LGBTQ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), including GL@D (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender at Daimler), Spectrum, and Equal. These ERGs play a significant part in helping the company plan their Pride Month activities, which are extensive. In 2019, the company held the Daimler Pride Tour, during which employees from around the world attended 15 different Pride parades and events. Daimler didn’t let the pandemic stop them from supporting Pride in 2020, celebrating virtually as part of Global Pride 2020.
This major beauty brand is another company that has long been awarded one of the HRC’s Best Places to Work for the LGBTQ community. They have numerous initiatives for supporting their employees of all identities, and also put a strong focus on supporting national organizations to advocate for LGBTQ rights. As the parent company of MAC Cosmetics, they have continued to support the MAC Viva Glam initiative and raised over $500 million to support people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
Gap has continuously supported their employees throughout the years, most recently receiving a perfect score on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for the 15th consecutive year. Their LGBTQ employee resource group, “GEAR,” aims to support employees from organizing participation in Pride parades, to providing resources for same-sex couples. They have also been supporting LGBTQ initiatives worldwide through the UN Free & Equal campaign which works to promote equal rights and fair treatment. Through fundraising during Pride month for the past five years, Gap has raised nearly $500,000 for the campaign.
In 2017, HP put their support for their LGBTQ employees on display by creating an ad featuring different family dynamics, and focused on inviting talent to join their team with the tagline, “Just be you.” The company’s employee resource group for LGBTQ employees played a large role in helping create the ad, according to a spokesperson. HP also serves as a corporate sponsor for many LGBTQ-aimed events such as the annual Out in Tech’s Digital Corp event. As a global company they also celebrate Pride Month with their ERG championing initiatives from all over the world.
IBM, the multinational technology company, has an outstanding record on diversity overall, including a history of fighting for LGBTQ rights. The company added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy as early as 1984, began providing Domestic Partner Benefits in 1996, and added “gender identity or expression” to its Equal Opportunity Policy in 2002, the largest company at the time to do so. In 2001, the company created an entire business development team focused solely on the LGBTQ community. The team, which has since expanded globally, partners with IBM business units to provide support and offer best practices. They also work to recruit and retain diverse talent, implement LGBTQ-inclusive benefits, and create and deliver training programs. The company also offers an LGBTQ+ Council, partners with numerous LGBTQ organizations, and is currently working to end HIV discrimination in the workplace. Perhaps most importantly, IBM realizes there is still a lot of work to do. They have documented their history on their website as a reminder of how far they have come—but also as a reminder that there are always more steps to take.
IKEA group aims to create a completely inclusive and supportive environment for their LGBTQ employees. They celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia every year to stand up for the human rights of individuals in those communities. IKEA is also a member of the Workplace Pride Foundation and Stonewall which are organizations that work to achieve LGBTQ equality in the workplace. They also were a co-creator of the UN Standards of Conduct which focused on how to handle discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace and community. All of these outreach initiatives are on top of the extensive LGBTQ-inclusive health care and additional benefits IKEA offers to its employees.
J&J has made it clear that they will not only support LGBTQ employees, but fully embrace them and any life decisions they choose to make while working there. This is important to foster an environment for employees to truly feel like their company is backing them. They demonstrate this through their extremely flexible and inclusive health benefits. J&J offers help with fertility treatments, adoption, and surrogacy for same-sex couples looking to start a family. They also provide accessible care for employees going through a gender transition, including covering the cost of surgery and hormone replacement therapy as one employee detailed in a testimonial.
Land O’ Lakes, an agricultural cooperative known for its dairy products, walks the walk when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion. In fact, Land O’ Lakes is the first Fortune 500 firm to hire an openly gay woman as CEO. Diversity and inclusion are at the core of everything they do, and Beth Ford, the CEO, has made it a point to emphasize that everyone should be able to bring their authentic selves to work. She leads the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Council herself, working with 11 employee resource groups, including the Pride Alliance, to ensure employees feel represented and safe at work. Beyond their intentionally inclusive work environment, Land O’ Lakes has also made strides in suppporting the LGBTQ community as a whole, standing out as one of the only corporations from the Twin Cities to celebrate Transgender Awareness in recent years.
Lendlease has emerged as a leader for diversity and inclusion in construction, in part due to its efforts to support the LGBTQ community. Year after year, Lendlease has retained its status as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by maintaining a 100% score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index. Additionally, Lendlease is part of HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act, a group of leading U.S. employers that support the Equality Act, and also maintains membership with local affiliates of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the largest advocacy organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people. On top of their larger initiatives, Lendlease participates in Spirit Day and Pride Month and facilitates volunteer opportunities with The Ali Forney Center in New York, Time Out Youth in Charlotte and Broadway Youth Center in Chicago.
Even though Pride month looked different in 2020, Microsoft was still determined to make an impact through limited-edition Pride products, donations to key LGBTQ charities, and further supporting their employees. Microsoft has had sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies since 1989, and continue to champion their LGBTQ employees today through their ERG “GLEAM.” Through GLEAM, Microsoft employees are provided with support, advocacy, networking opportunities, external outreach to nonprofits, and education promotion. They also are committed to supporting LGBTQ organizations, and donated $250,000 to LGBTQ and racial equity nonprofits in 2020.
At Oracle, they focus on creating opportunities for LGBTQ employees to not only feel a sense of community, but also use their unique perspective to contribute to the company. Through their employee resource group “Oracle Pride Employee Network” employees are able to participate in networking events, online groups to connect, creating business opportunities, and organizing company events that raise awareness of issues in the LGBTQ community. They also offer mental health services to all employees as well as their families at no cost to support employees’ overall well-being.
In 2018 PayPal received a perfect score of 100 on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for the 10th time in a row, which measures how well LGBTQ employees are treated at the company. They offer extensive benefits for transgender employees down to covering the cost of lodging and travel for surgical appointments within the U.S. On top of that they put a focus on covering mental health care for LGBTQ employees as that can be a double stigma for employees facing mental health issues. As a virtual resource they also offer an online service called meQuilibrium that helps employees manage their stress while learning long-term solutions and problem solving skills.
Progressive Insurance has been recognized as one of the top insurance companies for LGBTQ employees. The company provides transgender-inclusive healthcare and domestic partner benefits and has worked to publicly engage with the LGBTQ community. Progressive also takes their Core Values of Integrity and the Golden Rule very seriously, and uses them to guide their policies. The company encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work, ensuring they have an environment where they can feel safe, welcomed, and respected. Progressive offers a number of employee resource groups with over 18,000 members total, including their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Plus Network, which provides personal and professional support to members and serves as a resource for the organization. Thanks to these efforts, Progressive has been named to the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for nine years in a row.
Prudential Financial, one of the world’s top insurance, investment, and financial services providers, takes support of the LGBTQ community very seriously. In fact, the company’s first Business Resource Group was EAGLES, now known as PRIDE. The BRG was formed in 1993 and works to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ employees. In 1996, Prudential added “sexual orientation” to its written nondiscrimination policy, and the company was one of the first to provide domestic partnership benefits to employees in 2000. Prudential has also looked to extend its influence beyond its own policies and employee groups, joining over 200 other American companies in 2019 to file a brief arguing that Title VII applied to LGBTQ employees. The Supreme Court agreed in 2020, ensuring that employees nationwide could not be discriminated against for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Prudential filed additional briefs prior to earlier rulings in support of LGBTQ rights, including the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges case which legalized same-sex marriage. Additionally, Prudential has regularly released their LGBT Financial Experience Research Report since 2012, providing insight into the financial challenges and opportunities experienced by the LGBTQ community.
Storied American fashion company, Ralph Lauren, has long been committed to supporting their LGBTQ employees and the community as a whole. In fact, their efforts date back to 1990, when they began sponsoring the annual AIDS Walk in New York. Since then, the company has done extensive work to support the community, including partnering with the Stonewall Community Foundation and working with LGBTQ teens. Ralph Lauren employees have volunteered at Harvey Milk School for over a decade, and worked directly with impacted youth from the Hetrick-Martin Institute to design a tote bag that was later sold in stores. The company also makes it a point to celebrate Pride each year, and even released an entire gender-neutral Polo Pride clothing line to mark the occasion in 2020. A portion of the proceeds from the collection, totaling over $300,000, went directly to support the Stonewall Community Foundation. In addition to these efforts and an overall mission focused on diversity and inclusion, Ralph Lauren offers RL Pride, an employee resource group with more than 500 members, that works to drive LGBTQ awareness and education. These efforts have led to the company continuously being named one of the Human Rights Campaign’s Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.
Ring Central, a provider of cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions, believes it’s important for employees to bring their whole selves to work. One simple way they encouraged this was by releasing employee signature templates that include a space for pronouns. They also announced the “Rainbow Room,” an employee resource group for LGBTQ employees and allies. Ring Central has also made it a point to support their transgender employees. They celebrated Transgender Awareness week and offer transgender-specific benefits as part of the normal healthcare package, including mental health therapy, hormone replacement therapy, and mastectomies with chest reconstruction. These efforts have led to the company being named a Best Place to Work For LGBT Equality and receiving a perfect 100 on the Corporate Equality Index for three years in a row.
Riot Games, a video game developer best known for League of Legends, has made great strides in their support of LGBTQ employees in recent years. The company has proudly participated in the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (May 17th) for five years, initially celebrating the day internally with employees dressing up in support of each other. The recognition later expanded to within gameplay itself, with Riot Games adding the Rainbow Fluft icon to allow all players to show support for each other. The use of the Rainbow Fluft icon has expanded since its introduction in 2018, and in 2021 the company announced it would be available in all Riot games in May and June. Riot has also partnered with the It Gets Better Project since 2017, sponsoring events and initiatives in support of the international LGBTQ organization’s mission. As part of their Pride celebration in 2021, the company announced special events with their esports league and released Pride merchandise, with 100% of proceeds going to the It Gets Better Project.
Toyota, one of the world’s leading car manufacturers, takes pride in their LGBTQ inclusion efforts. The company has received a perfect score of 100 on the Corporate Equality index for an impressive 13 years in a row, showing a strong commitment LGBTQ workplace equality. Spectrum, the company’s LGBTQ business partnering group, works to help its members advance in their careers, strengthen business partnerships, and improve business results. The group also works directly with the community, supporting local LGBTQ organizations through donations and volunteerism. Acknowledging the unique challenges that underrepresented communities faced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Toyota also made significant commitments to LGBTQ organizations to help people struggling during the unprecedented events of 2020. The company donated $300,000, along with personal protective equipment, to the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation to help provide life-saving healthcare services during the pandemic.
True to the nature of their brand, Twitter has an account for their LGBTQ ERG “Twitter Open” where they tweet about important issues, retweet content from their LGBTQ employees, and support the other ERGs. Through this Twitter account, LGBTQ employees at Twitter are constantly part of the worldwide conversation, which enables the group to organize and participate in events. For example, they recently held a Q&A with cast members from Love, Victor, and to kick off Pride month, had employees tweet their photos with the hashtag #AlwaysProud. The account also shares information on protests, virtual Pride activities, and ways to contribute to social change.
This rideshare service supports LGBTQ employees through three main processes: recruitment and retention, community outreach, and training. One example of how they’ve implemented this strategy is creating their Global Gender Transition Guidelines where they explain their support system for transitioning employees as well as guidelines for co-workers, HR representatives, managers, and friends and family. Uber also showed their commitment to the LGBTQ community by joining the HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act which supported the U.S. federal legislation that ensured equal protection in the workplace for LGBTQ employees.
Venture For America is a two-year fellowship program for recent grads who want to work at a startup and create jobs in American cities. The organization believes that their community should reflect the diversity of this country, and VentureOUT, its Fellow resource group for LGBTQ individuals and allies, is on a mission to promote sexual orientation and gender identity diversity within VFA and the startup ecosystems in which VFA operates.
At ViacomCBS, LGBTQ employees are supported in a variety of ways, especially through their ERG “CBS Pride” that plans and executes numerous initiatives. In 2019, CBS Pride planned a series of events including networking, personal and professional development programs, and Pride events during June. CBS also helped put together an event with other entertainment companies to support GLAAD through a mixer of LGBTQ Hollywood leaders. Plus, as a broadcast company ViacomCBS commits to airing LGBTQ programming throughout the month of June including PSAs, documentaries, and TV series.
For five years in a row now Visa has received a 100% rating on the HRC’s corporate equality index which has earned them recognition as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGTBQ Equality.” They have been active in supporting the United Nations Standards for LGBTI which provides best practices for creating inclusive policies and workspace. Visa also joined the HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act, which is a group of businesses that are working to help the federal legislation be passed.
All of these companies have made it a point to support and uplift LGBTQ employees. Not only does an inclusive atmosphere attract more diverse talent, but makes for a more innovative workplace and better company culture. Initiatives like the ones these companies have implemented create a community space for individuals who might not otherwise feel included. Along with having a company’s full support in benefits and resources, these practices will help retain the great talent these initiatives bring in.