Top 10 LGBTQ+ friendly companies
In the age of social consciousness, LGBTQ-friendly companies are becoming the investment of choice for many. With big employers working to be more inclusive, we list the top ten profitable companies that support LGBTQ+ rights.
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What does it mean to be an LGBTQ+ company?
Being an LGBTQ+ company means having a culture of inclusivity that also speaks directly to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. It’s common for employers to have anti-discriminatory policies, but the organisations on our list are some of the most LGBTQ-friendly companies in the world and go the extra mile in advocating for the cause.
Businesses do this in various ways, such as:
- Having policies that explicitly speak against discrimination by sexual orientation
- Donating to causes that promote the equality and acceptance of LGBTQ+ persons
- Providing comprehensive benefits, including adoption leave and transgender-inclusive healthcare
- Creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ persons such as employee networks and celebrating key events (eg Pride Month)
- Cutting ties with organisations that openly discriminate against members of the community
There are many other ways progressive employers are opening up their spaces to be more inclusive. Read on to find out how our top ten are advancing the cause.
How can LGBTQ+-friendliness be measured?
The LGBTQ+-friendliness of a company is usually measured using a set of criteria that scrutinise its policies and practices. There are a number of tools that facilitate this by using research-based methods to analyse how LGBTQ+-friendly a business is. Some of these are the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the Global Workplace Equality Index (GWEI) and the South African Workplace Equality Index (SAWEI).
In Western Europe, Stonewall – an LGBTQ+ rights organisation based in London – has been leading the fight for equal rights in the UK since 1989 after the Section 28 law came into effect, essentially outlawing the ‘promotion of homosexuality’. It has run the GWEI since 2005.
The tool uses nine criteria, such as policies and benefits as well as global mobility, to give companies a Gold, Silver or Bronze rating. Stonewall also has a few international branches. In India, it runs a similar annual study called the India Workplace Equality Index (IWEI), which launched in 2020 – two years after homosexuality was decriminalised in the country in 2018.
Perhaps the most popular among these tools is the CEI, which was one of the first directories of its kind, developed by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in 2002. It runs annually and analyses US companies before compiling a report on the ‘Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality’.
The CEI gives companies a score out of 100 based on three main aspects: workplace protections, inclusive benefits, as well as supporting an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility. Only companies that receive a perfect score are acknowledged in the annual report. And while the CEI only reviews US-listed companies, many of them are major global players that adapt a number of their inclusive policies to their international hubs.
It has now become the benchmarking tool to measure inclusivity for companies in the US, with over 1200 big corporations participating in 2022. This shows a clear shift in the workplace considering only 319 companies participated in the first year. Furthermore, an incredible 842 companies got a 100% rating on LGBTQ+ equality this year compared to just 13 in 2002 when it first launched.
The SAWEI is the only LGBTQ+ inclusion benchmark in Africa and, like the IWEI, it’s a relatively new index – launched in 2018 to review organisations that operate in South Africa. It’s run by the South African LGBT+ Management Forum (The Forum) and works by auditing and asking participant companies a set of questions around their policies and practices. Depending on an organisation’s answers and evidence, it receives a Gold, Silver or Bronze rating. 23 companies participated in the last report and 18 of them achieved a tiering.
Why do people invest in LGBTQ+-friendly companies?
While many people choose investments based on profitability, it’s becoming increasingly popular to invest in socially responsible organisations. It’s a good way to build your wealth while simultaneously advancing a cause you care about.
Ethical and sustainable investing has become the norm for many market participants. This is, in part, thanks to the fact that inclusive companies are also usually more bankable.
A study by Nordic academics1 found that publicly traded US companies that are LGBTQ-friendly had higher profitability and stock market valuations than those that aren’t. These findings came from analysing the financial performance of 657 companies between 2003 and 2016.
Another reason people invest in LGBTQ-friendly companies is because they care. Investing in an organisation means putting your money towards its growth, and what better business to grow than one that shares your personal values? Many people are realising the importance of protecting the planet and its people, and they’re showing it through the companies they choose to trade and invest in.
Whatever your reasons for choosing ethical investment options, this trend shows how the corporate and trading world is giving a lot of relevance to the LGBTQ+ cause.
You can trade or invest in all the companies on this list at IG, as well as find more that give importance to environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives.
Top 10 companies that support LGBTQ+ rights in 2022
If you’re looking for an ethical investing opportunity, consider this list of our top ten LGBT-friendly companies:
Apple Inc. (AAPL)
2021 revenue: $365 billion²
Possibly one of the most LGBTQ-friendly companies on this list, Apple has continually taken a robust approach to fighting for LGBTQ+ equality. Not only has the company had non-discriminatory policies in place for many years, but it also actively participates in annual Pride Month celebrations and uses its lobbying power to fight against anti-discrimination laws.
Apple also makes generous donations to LGBTQ+ organisations regularly. Because of this, current chief executive officer (CEO) Tim Cook was awarded as the 2019 Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN’s) Champion at its ‘Respect Awards’. Plus, it received recognition for the 20th year running in the CEI. The tech giant was one of the few companies to get a perfect score in 2002 when the first report was released.
Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)
2021 revenue: $469.8 billion³
Amazon has publicly voiced support for the LGBTQ+ community over many years. In early 2021, it went as far as removing and refusing to sell books that frame being gay, lesbian or transgender as a mental illness. Furthermore, the company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, pledged an enormous $2.5 million in 2012 in support of the same-sex marriage campaign following Amazon’s public announcement in support of the initiative.
The company houses a number of employee networks, including Glamazon – an internal affinity group dedicated to promoting LGBT inclusivity. Glamazon was honoured as a top LGBTQ+ employee network in the 2021 Global Diversity List. And for the fifth year in a row, the online shopping giant has received a 100% rating in the CEI report.
2021 revenue: $572.8 billion4
Walmart has had a shaky past when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights for its employees. In 2002 when the CEI launched, the company scored a dismal 14/100. However, there’s been a significant shift in the way it treats and caters to diverse groups. The international retailer has made the HRC’s list of LGBTQ-friendly companies to work for this year, achieving a perfect score for a third time.
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
2021 revenue: $168 billion5
Microsoft has been ahead of its peers in terms of LGBTQ+ rights for years. The tech conglomerate was one of the first organisations to include sexual orientation in their non-discriminatory policies as far back as 1989.
Today, the computing leader is a gay-friendly company to work for – scoring 100 points for the 17th time, according to the HRC’s index. Its Indian branch also received recognition in the 2021 IWEI, achieving Gold status which is the index’s highest rating. SAWEI also placed Microsoft under its Gold tier in the 2019 review of South African companies.
For US Pride in 2021, Microsoft offered a comprehensive suite of LGBTQ-branded merchandise to celebrate varying gender identities and sexual orientations, with intersectionality as the central focus. In the same year, it donated over $2 million to organisations that support LGBT persons.
The computing expert, that also offers artificial intelligence solutions, has previously used unique and creative ways to celebrate Pride. Its #FeelThePride campaign from 2019 harnessed the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to collate positive online messages about the LGBTQ+ community.
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM)
2021 revenue: $57.4 billion6
Having LGBTQ-friendly policies is one of the ways many big corporations are being socially responsible, and IBM is no exception. In 1984, the company added ‘sexual preference’ to its non-discriminatory policy and later introduced domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.
These were monumental changes to make for the period, and the tech leader continues to champion diversity to this day. In June 2021, Katrina Troughton – IBM Australia’s managing director – was awarded CEO of the year at the LGBTQ Inclusion Awards.
The company is also home to regional employee affinity networks such as ‘Colorful Workplaces’ in Africa, ‘Japan Work with Pride’ in Asia and ‘Pride Connection’ in Latin America, to name a few.
IBM has received a 100% rating in the CEI every year since 2003, and its Indian branch also achieved Gold tiering in the 2021 IWEI report.
Visa Inc. (V)
2021 revenue: $24.1 billion7
Visahas a long history of supporting LGBTQ rights. Not only does it regularly participate in and donate to Pride Month celebrations, it also uses its lobbying power to back gay marriage and block mandates that threaten this.
The global payment solution has ingrained inclusivity in its workplace culture, from promoting women in leadership to advancing racial minorities. It’s also worked with many LGBTQ+ organisations such as the Trevor Project, a non-profit that advocates for mental health within the community and helps with suicide prevention.
Visa earned a 100% rating in the CEI for the 8th time in a row.
The Coca-Cola Company (KO)
2021 revenue: $38.7 billion8
Coca-Cola is known for celebrating Pride Month with rainbow-branded products, but it usually goes above and beyond that. The beverage company has featured on the HRC’s list of LGBTQ-friendly companies to work for from 2006 to today. It also supports and donates to LGBT+ organisations such as the Trevor Project and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
Coca-Cola has successfully run creative marketing campaigns to reshape negative perceptions of the LGBTQ+ community. One example of this is its Brazilian campaign from 2017, ‘Essa Coca é Fanta’, that put a positive and fun spin on a local derogatory colloquialism about gay people.
PayPal Holdings, Inc. (PYPL)
2021 revenue: $25.4 billion9
Like other companies on this list, PayPal actively advocates against LGBTQ+ discrimination. In 2016, a new law was passed in North Carolina that barred non-discrimination protections for LGBT persons.
During that time, PayPal was making plans to open an office in the state, a move that would’ve created over 400 jobs. Following the passing of this law, it announced that it would no longer move forward with the expansion. Many companies acted against the law in different ways, but this move by PayPal was lauded for having the most impact.
The payments company has made the HRC’s list each year since 2015.
Starbucks Corporation (SBUX)
2021 revenue: $29.1 billion10
Starbucks has made it clear on many occasions that it encourages diversity and inclusion. In 2013, the coffee company voiced its support for a referendum that backs gay marriage, and conservative clients responded by boycotting the brand.
One shareholder wasn’t happy about the financial ramifications of this, to which CEO Howard Schultz responded by backing the decision firmly. He stated that this wasn’t a financially motivated move and that the company will continue to advocate for and support LGBTQ+ rights.
The coffee expert got a score of 100 in the CEI for a 12th time in 2022.
Accenture PLC (ACN)
2021 revenue: $50.5 billion11
Last, but certainly not least, Accenturehas proven to be an LGBTQ+-friendly organisation to work for across the world. The Irish consulting firm featured on the 2022 CEI list, achieved Gold tiering in the 2021 IWEI and got a Silver rating in the 2021 SAWEI. This speaks to the organisation’s efforts to be a fair and equal employer across several of its international hubs.
In 2014, Accenture’s PRIDE network partnered with the Gay & Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) to drive education and visibility internally. This collaboration, according to the firm, has seen the number of allies affiliated with PRIDE more than double over the years. The company also became the primary sponsor of GAZE in 2012 – an annual film festival that celebrates and awards LGBTQ+ media.
ESG investing is one of many themes traders and investors are targeting this year. Other trending themes you can look at on our platform are AI, electric vehicles and cannabis.
Top 10 LGBTQ+ companies summed up
- LGBTQ+-friendly companies support the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people
- Research shows that companies with protections for LGBTQ+ employees are more profitable
- Traders and investors are increasingly opting to put their money into organisations that value equality and humanity
- A company is normally measured for LGBTQ+-friendliness using research-based tools that analyse its policies and practices
- There exists a number of these, each operating in different regions with their own criteria – but all ultimately about gauging equality and fairness
1 Does lesbian and gay friendliness pay off? A new look at LGBT policies and firm performance, 2021.
2 10-28-21 Apple Reports Fourth Quarter Results, 2021.
3 Amazon.com announces fourth quarter results, 2022.
4 Q4 FY22 Earnings Release - Walmart Corporate, 2022.
5 Microsoft Annual Report 2021, 2022.
6 2021 IBM Annual Report, 2022.
7 Visa Annual Report 2021, 2022.
8 Coca-Cola Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2021 Results, 2022.
9 2022 Notice of Annual Meeting of Stockholders and Proxy Statement (page 12), 2022.
10 Starbucks Reports Record Q4 and Full Year Fiscal 2021 Results, 2021.
11 Accenture Annual Report, 2021.
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