Friday, December 4, 2009

Money Talks... Spend it Wisely. Or, put another way, Let's Reward Gay-Friendly Companies!

The Human Rights Campaign has put out their annual BUYING FOR EQUALITY 2010 guide.

It's like a report card for companies, letting us consumers know who's a "friend" to the Gay (GLBTQ) community, and who is not.

Businesses are rated on a scale from 0 to
100, based on whether or not they have
policies that support LGBT people. These
include anti-discrimination protections,
domestic partner benefits, diversity train-
ing, transgender-inclusive benefits and
external practices.

It's a guide to let us know which companies we want to encourage to continue to stand by us, and which don't really deserve our money.

Like when you get gas for your car, it's good to know that BP (Arco, Castrol), Chevron (Caltex, Texaco) and Shell Oil all scored 100%.

And that Exxon Mobil scored 0. Yup, Zero. Why would you fill up there? Why would you let your family members or friends fill up there?

Costco scored 100%.

Walmart 40%. Where are you going to get that stuff for the party?

Mattel 95%.

Hasbro 50%. (Hey! Barbie turns out to be more politically correct than G.I. Joe!)

This is not about boycotting companies - it's about supporting companies that are Gay-friendly.

And when the Gay-friendly companies start to do better than their Gay-unfriendly competitors because so many of us are choosing to spend our money with the Gay-friendly companies, the tide toward justice will become seismic. Because then, in addition to the issue of fairness for Gays (which doesn't hold that much sway in many low scoring bottom-line obsessed boardrooms) there will be a financial incentive for companies to do the right thing by the Gay community. And that's a goal to work towards!

So get the guide. And spend your money wisely.

It's a way each of us can make a difference!



jlr said...

If only it were that simple. Maybe Shell scored 100 on this scorecard, but they are still involved in terrible human rights abuses along the Niger river, and so I'm still not giving them a cent. If only companies were aligned with ALL of my values...

Also, lee, on another note: could you please stop using "Gay" and "GLBT" interchangeably? They are not the same terms, they don't mean the same things, and it's belittling to our transgender, bisexual and lesbian siblings to call them gay, or lump their needs in with the needs of gay men. Yes, some of our struggles are intertwined, but that doesn't mean we should make our siblings invisible.


Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Hi jlr,

I agree that Friendliness to the GLBTQ community is only one criteria by which we can judge companies - I'm excited about the HRC report because all too often it's hard to figure out who is good on this issue... outside firms that seem to advertise in explicitly GLBT publications. (And even then, is a company really "friendly" if they advertise in the Advocate and then their owners take their profits and donate to anti-GLBT campaigns?) It's certainly complicated, but the more informed we are as consumers, the more power we hold.

As far as my using "Gay" as a catch-all term for our GLBTQ community, I agree that it's not perfect - but at the same time it's absolutely NOT intended to belittle or make our transgender, bisexual and lesbian siblings invisible.

I suppose my idea has been to use the term "Gay" to signify our entire community, and to specify "Gay Men" when I'm discussing men like me specifically. "Queer" as an over-arching term for our community is one I really like, but it also has two meanings: one for gender non-conformity, another as the catch-all word for GLBTQ. (the Q there being questioning.) Interestingly, I've had a lot of resistance to my use of the word "queer" from outside the GLBTQ community.

Thanks for your input on this - I'll certainly be giving it more thought in the weeks ahead.


Tobias said...

I've had some issues with the HRC data for a few years now. For instance, Toys R Us often scores somewhere between 40 and 60%. They're not perfect, but they're not horrible either. However, the Toys R Us in my hometown had gender neutral bathrooms, openly queer employees, and a yearly Pride contingent. Conversely, I know several people who were harassed at Best Buy (a company that regularly scores 100%) for being gay. Does it really make sense to support a corporation that looks good on paper when in reality they have serious problems on a local level?

I would also like to second the concern about using gay as a catch-all, particularly when referencing organisations like HRC. Many transpeople and trans supporters have no love for HRC and would be offended to be included with any reference to them. Then there's the issue of straight transpeople who certainly have no reason to be lumped in as part of the *gay* community. It's a tricky line to walk and I applaud you for even attempting it.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

I agree that the HRC report is just one data point - and if your local knowledge is different, by all means support our friends that way! (I'm sure that has impact, too!)

As for "Gay" not including transpeople, I was (and remain) furious with the exclusion of transpeople from any efforts to secure more equality and rights for our community.

We are stronger for our diversity, not weaker. Perhaps, being a Gay Man, I'm not feeling the exclusion others feel by the use of "Gay" as a catch-all.

As I mentioned above, I will certainly give the issue more thought.

thanks for being part of the discussion!