Updated Feb 21, 2023
Fighting against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is the right thing to do — and, as a bonus, it can be great for your business. Here’s how and why to do it.
- Important reasons to involve your business in the fight against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation go beyond moral and ethical considerations. It’s also good for your corporate social responsibility strategy, recruiting prospects and local economy.
- Involving LGBTQ+ people in your fight against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is an important first step, as is matching your external actions with strong internal policies. Meaningfully representing LGBTQ+ people in your content, using your money carefully and sharing your opinion are additional important steps.
- Potential forms of more direct action include forming business coalitions to fight anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and directly lobbying legislators.
- This article is for business owners interested in leveraging their companies and network in the fight against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
If you’ve paid attention to the news in recent years, you’ve likely noticed an ongoing anti-LGBTQ+ legislative crusade. This attempt by state legislatures to roll back the LGBTQ+ human rights obtained over decades of activism seems set to accelerate for the foreseeable future. Its effects are stark: In some states, nonbinary and transgender people can no longer legally access the medication they need.
Your business can get involved in the fight against this legislation, both inside and outside of your state. If you do take action, you’ll need to put your money where your mouth is — and show that you have. Below, learn why and how your business can partake in the fight against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
Why should businesses fight against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation?
Below are just a handful of the reasons businesses should speak out and act against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
1. It’s a moral imperative.
Let’s start with the obvious reason: Supporting human rights is the morally correct thing to do. This is less of an opinion than a generally agreed-upon consensus. The U.N.’s Human Rights Council declared LGBTQ+ rights to be human rights in 2011.
Anna Dewar Gully, co-founder and co-CEO of Tidal Equality, said that businesses have a responsibility to shape society in ways that preserve human rights.
“Do you want to live in a free society or an oppressive one? That’s the question responsible companies should be asking themselves as they contemplate how, and even if, to respond publicly to the rapid rise of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation,” Dewar Gully said.
“If you believe the recent polls that say the vast majority of people in our society want that too,” she added, “then now is the time for your company to use its platform and your organization’s voice on LGBTQ+ issues, with [the] moral courage it takes when so much is at stake and when it really counts.”
2. It’s part of corporate social responsibility.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly a priority among consumers. To address this concern, your business will need to do more than just say that it supports certain social causes. You’ll also need to put action behind your words to show that your CSR messaging is genuine and sincere.
According to DISQO’s 2022 LGBTQ+ ad study, 85 percent of consumers consider a company’s social and political activities when making purchasing decisions. The study also found that at least 50 percent of consumers have chosen not to buy from brands whose social and political views differ from theirs. Similarly, 50 percent of Gen Z and millennial shoppers have taken extra steps to buy a product from a brand whose views they share.
These numbers show that fighting against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation can be as good for your business as it is for society. When you take steps to ensure the LGBTQ+ community’s rights remain intact, you show consumers that they’re buying from a brand that cares about equity. This can drive customer trust and brand loyalty — not to mention employee morale and retention — while proving that you’re running a socially responsible business.
“We’re no longer in a place in the global economy where companies are dictating to people what they need and what they want,” said Dëv Ramsumair, founder and CEO at Omni-media. “The people are more powerful than they know. They actually dictate to the corporations what the next trend is, and corporations jump on it.”
3. The LGBTQ+ community has substantial buying power.
In March 2022, the Pride Co-Op reported that the LGBTQ+ community’s buying power had reached $1.4 trillion. This report also found that the LGBTQ+ community is the fastest-growing marginalized group in the U.S. Similarly, DISQO’s LGBTQ+ ad study found that LGBTQ+ buyers have a sizable impact on the economy.
“The LGBTQ+ community’s cultural and economic influence is underestimated,” said Kate Wolff, Do the WeRQ Co-Chair, Programming and Operations, in a press release accompanying the aforementioned DISQO study. “Our findings show it’s increasingly important to be fully authentic, from marketing to workplace to political engagements.”
“Gen Z is a little more than 20 percent LGBTQ+ self-identified,” said Gearah Goldstein, founder of The GenderCool Project. “That’s 20 percent not only of your workforce but your future customer base as well, if not your current customer base. I don’t know any company that’s willing to give up 20 percent of their customer base by simply ignoring who they are.”
4. Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation can harm recruiting.
In April 2022, Marketplace reported on a Texas-based tech consultant who told local recruiters she was leaving the state. This consultant, who is the parent of a transgender child, left the state due to its 2022 initiative to investigate parents whose children received gender-affirming healthcare. This consultant explicitly told recruiters to inform hiring managers she was leaving the state specifically because of this law.
The message couldn’t be clearer: Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation can harm businesses’ recruiting efforts. Small businesses, given their economic importance and influence, can leverage this fact to persuade state legislatures not to pass anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Goldstein noted that the effects of recruiting difficulties can pop up both internally and externally.
“If state taxes and revenues go down because companies and states can’t recruit the best talent, then their tax rates go down,” said Goldstein. “Their income goes down, and it has a much bigger effect [across the state] than the social argument that politicians might bring forward in pushing against LGBTQ+ inclusion.”
5. Small businesses are well-suited to make change.
It bears repeating: Small businesses hold enough leverage in social and economic matters to shape the future. Ramsumair spoke about this from his experience founding and running the Global Change Initiative, through which several businesses collaborated with the United Nations on its 2017 sustainable development goals. Based on his experience, he believes small businesses have the power to propel change.
“Things can move quicker when you work with corporations that are in control of their own dollars and don’t report to anybody,” Ramsumair said. “Medium and small corporations can make that impact because they’re agile. The CEO is also working in the company and can make a difference right away. If something inspires the CEO, boom, they can change, whereas with a large corporation, it has to go through various different barriers of approval.”