Pride in Your People—Inclusion Incorporated

November 15, 2018

The business case for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) inclusion in the workplace is resounding. Diverse workplace teams solve problems more quickly, and companies with diverse senior-level teams are more successful. This data translates into economic benefits for companies that engage in LGBT-inclusive policies. Companies that adopt these policies show a long term increase in financial performance compared to peer companies that do not.

The financial benefits are not the only reason to engage in LGBT-inclusive policies. Prospective talent and current employees care deeply about their company’s culture in this regard. In a 2017 national survey, 80% of respondents said that inclusion is an important factor in choosing an employer, and 72% would leave an organization for another that was more inclusive.

In spite of this overwhelming body of evidence, over 50% of the LGBT community is closeted at work, and 41% of LGBT employees have left a job because they have felt bullied.

Those last two statistics show a clear disconnect between the understanding of the importance of LGBT-inclusive practices, their execution in the workplace, and how they are received by the employees and community. That disconnect exists because there is not enough guidance on how the company as an organization can engage LGBT-inclusivity as a comprehensive strategy, instead of just its tactics, within its culture.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) and Gill Foundation are eager to address this need. It is in response to these current business challenges around diversity and inclusion (D&I) that USCCF and the Gill Foundation are launching Inclusion Incorporated, a first-of-its-kind research and education campaign to demonstrate the value of an LGBT-inclusive workplace and help businesses foster the environment to attract and retain LGBT talent, partners, and customers.

The Inclusion Incorporated campaign will go beyond existing research to discover the characteristics of the companies that integrate these policies effectively and the facets of corporate culture that help companies leverage the benefits of LGBT-inclusive policies.

At USCCF, we often look toward the business community to lead by example when it comes to engaging in their communities and societies. We know the business community is the most powerful voice and network to shift these practices, and that includes LGBT inclusion, acceptance, and empowerment.

The business community is already deeply invested in breaking down barriers for all minorities to be empowered to reach their full potential. The employer community has overwhelmingly concurred that non-inclusive LGBT policies hurt attraction and retention of qualified employees. In fact, the vast majority of Fortune 500 businesses  have sexual orientation (91%) and gender identity (83%) protections enumerated in their non-discrimination policies.

However, there is a need to translate the actions of leading businesses in the United States with the other 6 million companies that have a desire to benefit from these types of policies but no clear plan to follow. 

Inclusion Incorporated will bridge that divide—helping companies, no matter their size, or their place on the journey from diversity to inclusion. The campaign will provide a system for how businesses can take steps forward on LGBT inclusion, at any budget level. Additionally, our research will address how to implement inclusive policies, rather than the what or why of those policies, documenting the benefits that a company experiences in its culture when it pursues LGBT-supportive policies.

Over the next year, USCCF and Gill will build a resource platform and a public education campaign to engage companies at various stages of instituting LGBT-supportive policies, give them tools to act, and build a system for businesses to learn and understand best practices.  We will be working with local chambers of commerce in a communities like Columbus, Ohio, Northern Virginia, and Florida to engage businesses of all sizes on this work and help them leverage the tools, research, and best practices.

We invite you to join us on this journey; there is much to learn from each other. Take pride in your people, empower your business through smart and thoughtful resources, and understand your role in breaking down the barriers for LGBT inclusion.

Learn more about our upcoming regional discussions, research, and resources here.