Work Policies That Support LGBT Community Are Good for Business

Phoenix Business Journal
By Tim Gallen
May 29, 2013

A new study confirms what many in the gay and lesbian community have said for some time: LGBT-supportive policies are linked to positive business outcomes.

The study from the Williams Institute examined 33 research studies and concluded that policies that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals lead to greater job commitment, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction and better health outcomes among LGBT employees.

“We now have a strong body of evidence that LGBT-supportive policies have a variety of benefits for companies that extend beyond the employees those policies impact directly,” said M.V. Lee Badgett, one of the study’s authors and research director and professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts. “As our nation’s workplaces become more diverse, businesses that respond to that trend will benefit.”

LGBT employees are more likely to go above and beyond when they work for businesses and organizations with policies that support them, the study also found. In addition, relationships with coworkers and supervisors also improve among gay workers.

Many opponents to enacting LGBT-supportive policies often cite cost as a barrier. However, the Williams Institute study found that such costs, including extending health benefits to same-sex partners, are likely negligible and often offset by savings in other areas.

While such policies certainly benefit LGBT workers themselves, the benefits to businesses don’t stop there, according to the study.

Non-LGBT consumers and job-seekers who value such inclusive diversity policies and practices often seek out businesses that have them. They are seen as better companies from which to buy products or for whom to work, the study said, expanding both potential customers and prospective employees.

Tony Felice, owner of Phoenix-based Tony Felice Public Relations, said the Williams Institute study highlights that “workplace equality is more than a growing trend, but now a growing demand.”

Because not being “out” is no longer common for LGBT individuals, they have a stronger sphere of influence in society and the workplace.

“That means those employees have a sphere of influence that has grown exponentially to include supportive friends and family that want workplace and social equality for their LGBT family and friends,” Felice said in an email. “That means that employers have had to adjust their policies accordingly to meet the demands of a progressive society.”

Felice is also the diversity and public relations chair for the Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Phoenix businesses and municipalities continue to embrace such LGBT-supportive policies. Earlier this year, the city of Phoenix became the latest Valley city to enact anti-discrimination policies to protect LGBT workers.

Also, this year’s Business Equality Index, administered by the Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, found that 98 percent of Arizona small businesses (fewer than 20 employees) actively promote diversity while between 80 and 90 percent of medium-sized and large companies actively promote LGBT diversity.

“The bottom line is that workplace equality is good for all employees and most assuredly, it’s good for business and it’s own bottom line,” Felice said.

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