Corporate LGBTQ Advocacy

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    • #6543
      Corina Hendren
      • she/her/hers
      • Out & Equal

      Companies are increasingly under pressure from activists, employees and consumers to act in the public sphere to advance LGBTQ rights where they operate. In response, there are a growing number of examples of corporate advocacy.    

      • Has your company engaged in this space? If so, how? 
      • What are some of the challenges faced by your company when doing corporate LGBTQ advocacy? 

    • #6588
      Ken Janssens
      • He/Him
      • Out & Equal

      Over the last two decades JPMorgan Chase has made public statements in support of LGBT+ rights across the United States, Brazil, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Poland.

      This has ranged from issues such as workplace non-discrimination, marriage equality and transgender rights. 

      The main challenge is the need to design a process that governs your LGBT+ advocacy process around the globe where key departments such government relations, media relations, legal and D&I can be brought together quickly to assess emerging cases as there is often only a window of a few weeks where LBGT+ non-profits are trying to pull together a coalition of companies to sign onto a statement. 

      Graphic - A track record of making public statements in support of LGBT+ rights

    • #6589
      Bonnie McGuire
      • She/Her
      • Dell Technologies

      There are 2 main areas Dell Technologies has taken an active role in LGBTQ+ advocacy over the years:

      • First off, at the company level – Dell has taken a public position by signing onto The Equality Act and the Virginia Values business coalition letter, among others.  These actions usually start out as a request from within the ERG and then get bubbled up to our Government Affairs team who then run with it.  Fortunately, Govt. Affairs has been our biggest ally and they have taken us from a conservative company in the heart of Texas to an outspoken leader in LGBTQ+ rights and workplace equality for all. 
      • Second, at the employee led grassroots level where our Pride ERG has made advocacy a central focus. A lot of this has to do with the states the bulk of our US Pride members reside in: Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma – southern states on the front lines of LGBTQ discrimination and the fight for equality. It’s important to our members that, not only is Dell taking a stance at the national level, but that they feel empowered to advocate for equality as employees of Dell. 

        • We encourage employee-led advocacy through Lobby Days at various state capitols across the country, voter registration drives (including participation in National Voter Registration Day), and by taking playing an active part in advocacy education – for our own employees, external community partners and strategic business partners. 

      The biggest challenge we have faced (in my opinion): 

      • Not signing onto / taking public positions fast enough

        • Typically the larger the company, the slower the progress.  We have to remind ourselves that we are in it for the long haul and I am blown away by the progress we have made in this space in the span of just a few short years. 

      Advice for those who haven’t started / or are just starting out on their corporate advocacy journey:

      • Make friends with your Government Affairs team – find out who they are, ask for a meeting – for Dell, Government Affairs was instrumental to our success
      • If told “No”, don’t give up.  In 2016, when I first took over chairing our Dell Pride ERG in Oklahoma City I wanted to hold a “Lobby Day” at the state capitol. My local site leaders shot the idea down. I sharpened my proposal, found the right contacts (you guessed it! Govt. Affairs!) and organized my first Lobby Day the very next year. I’ve now organized 4 annual Lobby Days, have trained other ERG’s within Dell on how to advocate for their own communities and spoken at multiple conferences on Dell’s Lobby Days and citizen-led advocacy initiatives.  One idea can change your whole career – “No” doesn’t always mean no. Sometimes it means “not right now”. 
      • Don’t recreate the wheel – reach out to me, Ken, all of your friends at Out & Equal!  LGBTQ+ equality is driven by passionate advocates with a little empowerment, encouragement and know how. Let us help you be successful!
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