Human Rights Campaign Encourages Consumers to “Support Those That Support Us” with Buying for Equali

In time for the holiday season, new guide gives consumers tool for buying products from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friendly companies

WASHINGTON – In time to kick-off of the holiday shopping season, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today released a guide to hundreds of popular American brands rated on businesses’ treatment of LGBT employees.  “Buying for Equality 2010” divides businesses and their consumer products into red, yellow and green categories based on their score on the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, a nationally recognized benchmark of LGBT inclusion.  The guide is available for download and viewing online at www.hrc.org/BuyersGuide.

“Congress is currently considering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a critical piece of workplace legislation that will include our community.  Until all LGBT Americans get fair treatment in the workplace, we must support businesses that support us,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “By purchasing products from businesses that support LGBT equality, shoppers send a clear message to businesses that their support, or lack thereof, will directly impact their bottom line.”

The LGBT community is estimated to have $712 billion in buying power this year, according to research by Witeck-Combs Communications and Marketresearch.com. A recent study by Witeck-Combs/Harris Interactive also found that 78 percent of LGBT people are extremely or very likely to consider brands that are known to provide equal workplace benefits for their employees, including LGBT workers.

“From determining which car to purchase, to the right holiday gift for the kids, to everyday grocery shopping, this guide harnesses the power of equality-minded shoppers.  At this moment it’s critically important that businesses hear that their customers support businesses that support us,” said Solmonese.

Fair-minded consumers are encouraged to write to businesses to either thank them for their support, ask them revise their policies, or encourage them to participate in the Corporate Equality Index.  More information can be found at www.hrc.org/ConsumerAdvocacy.

This is the fifth year the Human Rights Campaign has published Buying for Equality. The guide has been viewed and downloaded more than 300,000 times at www.hrc.org/BuyersGuide.

Additional background information on “Buying for Equality 2010”:
Buying for Equality is an annual publication of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that directs consumers to support fair-minded businesses through their purchasing decisions. The guide draws comparisons between products, services and retail outlets that consumers use on a daily basis. The ratings are based upon the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index which, this year, rated a record 305 at 100 percent. The CEI is the foremost method for businesses to evaluate their diversity and inclusion efforts toward recruiting and retaining LGBT employees, customers and investors — learn more at www.hrc.org/cei.

Categories: “Buying for Equality” breaks companies and their products into everyday purchasing categories, including:
• Apparel & Accessories
• Banking & Finance
• Eating Out
• Food & Beverage
• Home & Garden
• Technology

Ratings:
Businesses and their products are divided based on their CEI rating into red, yellow and green sections so that consumers can easily determine which brands support LGBT equality:
• Green (80-100): Consumers should make every effort to support these businesses.
• Yellow (46-79): Businesses/brands that have taken steps toward a fair-minded workplace, but there is still progress to be made.
• Red (0-45): Businesses/brands that have more work to do in furthering equality. If possible, make the choice to support a fairer company.
• Red (?): Businesses/brands that have not responded to the survey despite repeated attempts and whose policies remain unclear.
HRC looks forward to building relationships with businesses that have not responded to attempts to gather information on LGBT workplace policies and programs, and are hopeful to evaluate and report information in the future.

Featured Businesses and Their CEI Ratings:
• General Mills (100%) vs. Kellogg’s (65%)
• Visa, MasterCard, American Express (100%) vs. Discover Card (58%)
• Orbitz (100%) vs. Expedia (65%)
• Dell (100%) vs. Acer/Gateway (50%)
• Best Buy (100%) vs. Radio Shack (40%)
• Staples (93%) & OfficeMax (90%) vs. Office Depot (45%)
• Mattel (95%) vs. Hasbro (50%)

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.