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The Human Rights Campaign Calls Out Stinkers

Human Rights CampaignLGBT Americans wield more than $700 billion in buying power and are more likely than straight folks to spend money with companies that support them (makes sense, no?). But combing through a company's discrimination policy is no one's idea of a fun pre-shopping activity. Enter: the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

The HRC keeps tabs on how well corporate America treats its LGBT employees, consumers, and investors. This week it synthesized data on 590 companies into an easy-to-use Buying for Equality guide, scoring companies on a scale of 0 to 100 and awarding them a rating of green (shop away!), yellow, or red. The scores are based on such criteria as whether the company provides domestic-partner benefits, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or identification, hosts diversity training, and supports LGBT causes. And the HRC is rolling out an iPhone app early next month, so shoppers can decide whether to swing into Gap (100) or Anne Klein (45) while on the go.

Most of the HRC's scores are heartening and pretty unsurprising: 100s all around for Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Nike. But it's the stinkers in the list that caught my eye: Cracker Barrel scored the worst of the bunch, with a paltry 15 (hashbrown casserole be damned, that number's low enough to knock them off my next road-trip itinerary). Wal-Mart and Radioshack both scored a 40, John Deere earned a 33, and Office Depot and Humana came in at 45.

Of course, a low score doesn't mean that a company is actively hostile to its LGBT workforce, whether that means only promoting straight people or encouraging homophobic remarks around the watercooler. But it does reflect a certain passivity or apathy to equality. When I spoke with Corliss Fong, VP of diversity strategies at Macy's, about her company's recent decision to officially ban discrimination against transgendered employees, she asked, "If this is what we, as a company, are already doing in practice, what argument is there to not put it in writing?" That proactive mentality earned the retailer a perfect 100—which may snag them more shoppers this holiday season.

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  • Cliff Jenkins

    @ale I'm surprised that @mark didn't drop a 9/11 reference in there somewhere. I'll skip the hashbrowns from "cracker" barrel thanks.

  • Eric Scharf

    Hmmm... I wonder how many Gay men buy John Deere tractors. That bit of humor aside I commend HRC for this wonderful directory. It is unfortunate that those who are not supportive of equal rights for all Americans would use the directory to boycott companies have discriminatory policies. Let's just look forward to a successful holiday selling season.

  • Mark Beard

    Equally using the buying for Equality guide as a tool to target the higher scoring companies would help those who want these companies to understand that they do not agree with their moral direction. Companies should not relinquish to this type of terrorism. I will be glad to order an extra round of hash browns.

  • Corvida Raven

    Awesome, awesome, AWESOME! I love the idea and the help they're giving to consumers who simply don't know or don't really want to go through the effort of looking for policies that play a major role in earning money.

    I'll be looking forward to reviewing their iPhone app. I think it'll be an easy and more valuable tool to have and support. In the meantime, I wonder if this really will help LGBTQ shoppers support companies that support us. Will it really make a difference at the end of the day?

  • Todd Singleton

    This score can be used in either direction by Americans. If the gay marriage votes, where put to the ballot, are any indication of Americans position on LGBT then many, if not most, will be indifferent to the score of companies that do not provide "domestic-partner benefits" or "diversity training".