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LGBT Marketplace


December 2016


How to Come Out and Start Up in Business

Zale's Jewelry Ad Features Lesbian Couple

Target To Install Gender Neutral Bathrooms in All Its Stores

The Power of Being an Out Entrepreneur

How Businesses Are Standing Up for LGBT Rights

Nielson: LGBT Consumer Report

Nielson: State of the LGBT Consumer

Experian: Marketing to LGBT Consumers


Businesses and Government Officials Should Not Discriminate Against LGBT People


October 2015

According to The Harris Poll: Majority of Americans Agree That Businesses and Government Officials Should Not Discriminate Against LGBT People


As Kentucky’s Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis may now realize, most Americans believe that government officials should not allow their religious beliefs to stand in the way of issuing marriage licenses to all couples. A new national survey reveals that Americans shun this form of discrimination not only by public officials, but also by businesses that wish to deny goods or services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people.

A full two-thirds (67%) of Americans, including 78% of LGBT Americans, agreed that a government official should be obligated to serve all of the public and perform all duties, regardless of their religious beliefs. The Out & Equal Workplace survey also confirmed that 60% of Americans (and 80% of LGBT individuals) believe that business owners should not be permitted to turn away anyone based on their religious beliefs.

These and other findings were included in the 2015 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, released today. The annual study was conducted online between September 9 and 17, 2015, by The Harris Poll® in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck Communications, among 2,368 U.S. adults, of whom 304 self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (which includes an over-sample of gay and lesbian adults). Launched in 2002, this survey has become a trusted annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT issues in the workplace and is the longest-running national survey of its kind. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

“These findings makes it clear that a majority of Americans still believe that fairness and equal treatment are a birthright for all of us – and that discrimination against LGBT people has no justification,” said Selisse Berry, Founder, CEO, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. “This past year, we saw more and more business leaders and corporations boldly oppose discriminatory religious freedom legislation, while standing up for their workforce and their customers. Out & Equal takes pride in helping build this positive foundation for equality across America and around the world.”


Strong Support for Federal NonDiscrimination Protections:
The survey also informed respondents that there is no federal law today that protects someone who is gay or transgender from discrimination in public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels and other businesses open to all the public. When asked if they would support such a law, 6 out of 10 (62%) Americans agreed, with 44% saying they “strongly support” a federal law, and, by contrast, only 14% saying they “strongly oppose” such a law.

In a related question, the survey found that 21% of Americans believe that LGBT people are protected from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in all 50 states, including 12% of LGBT people who share this misconception. However, there is no such federal law, and today there are only 22 states with workplace protections based on sexual orientation, and 19 states that include protections for gender identity.

State Exemptions for Individual Religious Beliefs:
The survey also touched on the rise of state legislation that would expand ways to exempt individuals from laws or regulations that conflict with their religious beliefs. Forty-five percent of Americans say they oppose expanding these religious exemptions at the state level, with just 30% in support. Roughly one out of five, however, said they still were not sure.

“Americans are debating and learning much about the kind of society they desire,” said Bob Witeck, President of Witeck Communications. “The good news is that their distaste for discrimination seems to be growing, and this signal is keenly understood in the marketplace and throughout American life.”


This Harris Poll was conducted online (in partnership with Out & Equal and Witeck Communications) within the United States between September 9 and 17, 2015, among 2,368 adults (ages 18 and over), of whom 304 self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (including an over-sample of lesbian and gay adults). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. In addition, the results for the gay and lesbian sample were weighted separately based on profiles of the gay and lesbian population that The Harris Poll has compiled through many different online surveys. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Poll, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

(From The Harris Poll)


Out at Work

Evangelist Boycotts Wells Fargo Over Pro-Gay Ad

Proud Whopper

How LGBT Friendly Are US Companies?

Companies Seeking Gay Pride Sponsorships

Why Coming Out is Good Business

Corporate Sponsorship of Gay Pride Events on the Rise

Top LGBT Corporate Business Leaders

Openly Gay CEOs


Time Cook is New Apple CEO

October 2014


"I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."


The new CEO of Apple Computers is from Alabama and he is gay!  Tim Cook is a 1982 graduate of Auburn University.  He was born in Mobile and grew up and attended school in south Alabama.  And he is now the CEO of Apple Computers, succeeding Apple founder Steve Jobs back in 2011. On October 30 he announced to the world that he was gay, making him the highest-profile chief executive to publicly come out.  Cook becomes the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, according to gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, who applauded Cook's Bloomberg essay in which he announced his sexual orientation.  "Tim Cook's announcement today will save countless lives," says HRC President Chad Griffin. "He has always been a role model, but today millions across the globe will draw inspiration from a different aspect of his life."



Mr. Cook’s decision is unlikely to have any major impact on Apple’s global business, said business analysts and professors. No business executive of Mr. Cook’s stature has ever done something like this before. And while laws legalizing same-sex marriage are sweeping places like the United States, Latin America and Europe, gay rights advocates are still struggling to secure basic protections in Asia, where Apple generated 27 percent of its revenue in the fourth quarter.  "Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy," he says. "I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them."  He continues, "At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?  I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today."  "For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation, " he explains. "Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky."  "While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."  Tim Cook's revelation comes just days after he advocated on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in his home state of Alabama.   "Alabama is still too slow on equality for the LGBT community," he said, per the Associated Press, while calling for laws protecting people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. "Under the law, citizens of Alabama can still be fired based on their sexual orientation. We can't change the past, but we can learn from it and we can create a different future."  "As a state, we took too long to steps toward equality," he said. "We were too slow on equality for African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage, and we are still too slow for the equality for the LGBT community." Cook's sexuality has been a point of speculation for quite some time. Gawker reported that Cook was gay back in 2011 before he succeeded Steve Jobs.  Since then, Cook himself has seemingly dropped hints about his sexuality. Last year, during a speech about human rights at Auburn University Cook discussed the discrimination he faced as a young person.



Business week: Tim Cook Speaks Up

Wikipedia: Tim Cook

NY Times: Tim Cook is Proud to be Gay

CNN Money: Apple CEO Tim Cook Comes Out

Huff Post: Tim Cook Comes out as Gay

USA Today: Apple CEO Tim Cook Proud to be Gay

Huntsville Times: Tim Cook Announces He is Gay

AL.Com: Tim Cook Criticizes Alabama

Montgomery Advertiser: Alabama Must Do Better Says Tim Cook

Huff Post: Tim Cook Calls Out His Own State

Other Openly Gay CEOs


Witeck Communications


Witeck Communications, Inc. is a leading strategic marketing communications firm, specializing in outreach, respect and inclusion for diverse LGBT communities. For nearly 25 years, Witeck Communications has served as a bridge between corporate America and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In 2003, American Demographics magazine identified Bob Witeck one of 25 experts over the last 25 years who has made significant contributions to the fields of demographics, market research, media and trend spotting for his path breaking work on the gay and lesbian market. He has appeared in worldwide media outlets including Fortune, CNBC, Daily Telegraph, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, Ad Age, the New York Times and the Washington Post.




Out & Equal Workplace Advocates


Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is the world’s premiere nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace equality. Out & Equal collaborates with Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies to provide a safe, welcoming and supportive environment for LGBT employees.

Since 1996, Out & Equal has worked with executives, human resources professionals and Employee Resource Groups to provide leadership and professional development, education and research.

Out & Equal hosts an annual Workplace Summit, where employees and experts from around the world gather to share strategies and best practices to create workplace equality, inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.



Franklin Graham Boycotts Wells Fargo


June 2015


Wells Fargo Bank, headquartered in San Francisco, has been a longtime supporter of LGBT issues and concerns.  Evangelist Franklin Graham (62 year old son of Billy Graham and head of the North Carolina-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) has been an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights.  So this latest move, showcasing Graham's homophobic attitude, should come as no surprise. Christian Evangelist Franklin Graham has sparked an angry Facebook debate about gay rights when he announced he is pulling all of his organization's millions out of Wells Fargo accounts in response to the bank's recent ad campaign featuring a lesbian couple. "Have you ever asked yourself, how can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community?" Graham said. "At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank."  In addition to closing his accounts with Wells Fargo, Graham wrote that he plans to boycott Tiffany & Co. in response to an ad the jeweler released in January that shows two men getting engaged.



LGBTQ Nation: Franklin Graham's Boycott of LGBT Friendly Businesses

CNN: Evangelist Pulls Wells Fargo Account Over Pro-Gay Ad

USA Today: Rev Graham Urges Boycott of Bank Over Same Sex Ad

Towleroad: Graham Urges Boycott of Wells Fargo

AJC: Georgia's First Pro-Gay Marriage Ads


Response to Franklin Graham

June 2015


A blogger responding to LGBT Nation's article about Franklin Graham's boycott of Wells Fargo Bank posted this comment:


If he is serious about his boycotting of ALL companies that are gay-friendly and promote themselves as such, here's a small list of companies that he needs to avoid:  Apple, Microsoft (There goes using 95% of all computers), Google, YouTube, eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter (There goes a major chunk of their online activity), Wal-Mart, Target, Barnes & Noble, Coke, Pepsi (There goes 95% of soda), Starbucks, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, Virgin Mobil (There goes almost all of their phone contracts), All major credit card companies (including Visa, American Express, Discover and Chase cards), All major vehicle companies (like Ford, Dodge, Ram, Chevrolet and GMC).  And so much more. Good luck doing ANYTHING in this country without doing business with a gay-friendly business.




LGBTQ Nation: Franklin Graham's Boycott of LGBT Friendly Businesses

Huffington Post: Gay Commercials


BP Former CEO Comes Out


June 2014


The former CEO of BP Oil Company (British Petroleum), Lord John Browne, has come out as gay.  In his recently published book, "The Glass Closet," Browne reflects on being a closeted gay business executive.  During his 12 years as CEO, he never discussed his sexuality in the workplace. That changed in 2007, when his relationship with a male escort was exposed and Browne resigned amid an ensuing scandal. At the time, he said in a statement, "I have always regarded my sexuality as a personal matter, to be kept private."


The presumption in the business world "is that everyone is straight," Browne tells NPR. "The presumption is that a man will have photographs on his desk of his wife and children."  But looking back today, he says "it would have been better to come out, rather than not." So Browne has written a manifesto, The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out Is Good For Business. In it, he shares his regrets and urges business to create a more supportive environment for gay and lesbian employees.




You Tube: Interview With BP CEO John Browne

NPR News: John Browne's New Book The Glass Closet

Daily Beast: BP CEO Comes Out of Closet

Veooz: The Power of Coming Out
Business Week: John Browne Getting Out of the Closet

Quartz: Browne Supports Gay Marriage

Guardian: John Browne on Being Gay


LGBT Business Issues

Companies That Support LGBT Rights

Companies That Do Not Support LGBT Rights

Starbucks: Not Backing Down

General Mills Celebrates Supreme Court Rulings

Betty Crocker Supports Gay Families

Nabisco's Pro-LGBT Activities

Top 50 Openly Gay Business Leaders

Misconceptions About Anti-Gay Discrimination

Pride Not Prejudice: Discrimination in the Workplace

World's Best Gay Marriage Ads

AFL CIO President Trumka: Comments on Bullying and Discrimination
Freedom Quest: Gay Business Opportunity
Out for Business: NGLCC Business & Leadership Conference
Out Now Global: Gay Market News
Business Week: Gay Business & Marketing

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates




LGBT Marketing

Hotwire: Lucky Me Ad

Microsoft Outlook Features Gay Wedding in New Ad
Gay-Friendly McDonalds Ad in France
You Tube: Gay McDonalds Ad in France
Gay Pepsi Ad in England
European Gay Teen Commercial
Israeli Gay Youth TV Commercial


LGBT in the Marketplace

LGBT marketing is the act of marketing to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) consumers, either with dedicated ads or general ads, or through sponsorships of LGBT organizations and events, or through the targeted use of any other element of the marketing mix. The LGBT market comprises a large and influential group of customers to a broad range of companies, across industry segments, across many countries around the globe. In the U.S. alone, the LGBT market is estimated to be worth $660 billion (2006) in disposable income. Approximately 4% to 10% of adult populations self-identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, meaning between 12 million and 28 million in the United States alone. Major ad categories include travel, financial services, alcoholic beverages, automotive, entertainment, hair and skincare, luxury goods, pharmaceuticals, and fashion.




LGBT Ad - Soup
LGBT Ad - Holiday Inn
LGBT Ad - Hyundai
LGBT Ad - Johnny Walker
LGBT Ad - Malimi Clothes
LGBT Ad - Toyota

LGBT Ad - Motorola




LGBT Customers




Many marketers are aware of the significant opportunity of the $743 billion lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender market.  LGBTs over-index in many categories (travel, spirits, automotive, among others) or have unique, often underserved needs (financial services and healthcare, for example) that make them a prime prospect for brand growth. But what is the most effective way to advertise to LGBTs? Can you simply run your general market creative or add gay cultural “cues” to an existing ad? Do you need to create a gay-targeted ad? The surprising answer is all of the above...depending on your brand, category, competition, and what is relevant and motivating to LGBTs. Despite claims by a variety of Right Wing Religious Conservatives, it turns out that companies that market to and support the LGBT Community have more to gain than those that do not. The results from the “2010 Out Now Global LGBT Study” shows that there is a powerful consumer market that chooses to buy brands that support LGBT customers.  According to Out Now CEO Ian Johnson “After ‘coming out’, LGBT people in 2010 are now well advanced in the process of ‘coming in’ – into the mainstream of society in many ways. . .There still exists levels of discrimination and misinformation directed against LGBT people – but this new research reveals a clear trend. Gay consumers switch brands to support companies that support LGBT customers and staff. This is highly significant – and valuable. . .The research shows marketing to gay consumers, and supporting LGBT staff, can add valuable percentage points to total market share – and profits – for companies developing effective, relevant and authentic strategies.”  Consumers who support LGBT supportive businesses account for roughly six percent of all worldwide sales.



Gay Market News

LGBT Marketing Blogspot

Styles & Trends of Today's LGBT Consumers

Wikipedia: LGBT Marketing
Study Shows Companies That Support LGBT Customers Have More to Gain
Brief Primer on Engaging LGBT Customers

LGBT Marketing Success
Openly Gay Marketing

Multicultural Marketing: Does This Ad Made Me Look Gay?

Out Brands

Out Now Consulting

Community Marketing


The Business of Gay Marriage



Recent articles in Forbes Magazine, the premiere business publication in the US, offered some refreshing business perspectives on the same-sex marriage issue. Through a series of insightful reports, staff writer Deborah Jacobs gave a stirring endorsement of same-sex marriage, offered financial advice to same sex couples contemplating marriage, and showcased some recent marketing strategies inspired by same-sex weddings.




Forbes Mag: Married With Complications
Forbes Mag: It's Time to Stop Fighting About Same-Sex Marriage
Forbes Mag: Same-Sex Weddings Inspire Creative Ad Campaigns


Gay Entrepreneurs



StartOut is a new nonprofit networking group for gay entrepreneurs. The group, organized by a circle of friends in spring 2009, has since drawn some 1,000 participants to events in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.  Entrepreneurs come to StartOut events to network, share ideas and sip cocktails. They come to talk business in a setting free of awkward assumptions. Start Out describes itself as an organization dedicated to fostering and developing entrepreneurship ion the LGBT Community. They are seeking to create the next generation of LGBT business leaders by helping aspiring entrepreneurs start new companies, helping current entrepreneurs to grow and expand their businesses, and engaging successful entrepreneurs as role models and mentors for less established entrepreneurs. Their goals are to educate, to inspire and to support entrepreneurs. They also strive to foster LGBT leadership in the business community. Start Out was founded by Darren Spedale, an investment banker turned serial entrepreneur in Manhattan.  He came up with the idea for StartOut a year ago. Mr. Spedale, most recently a founder of A-List Global Media, a company that creates media and entertainment products for adolescents, noted that plenty of other groups had entrepreneurship associations — like Astia for women or TiE for South Asians. “Why on earth isn’t there anything like this for the gay and lesbian community?” he remembers thinking. “It was a no-brainer.”   In fact, the last decade has seen a flowering of affinity groups for gays in business. M.B.A. candidates can get connected through Out for Business clubs at their universities and the annual Reaching Out conference, which brought more than 900 attendees to the Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta in October.   There are some 1.2 million gay-owned businesses in the United States and about 29,000 of them belong to local gay chambers of commerce, according to Justin G. Nelson, president and a founder of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, which was organized in 2002 in Washington.  For too many years, Mr. Nelson said, the prevailing attitude among gay entrepreneurs in America was, “It’s O.K. for me to be gay, but I can’t do it in my business for fear that it will ruin my company.” That message, however, has evolved.




NY Times: Building a Network of Gay Entrepreneurs
Start Out: Gay Entrepreneurs



LGBT Business Tools

Echelon Magazine
LGBT Business Magazine, subtitled, "Taking Pride in Business," provides business news reports, market research data, employer profiles, franchise info, real estate info and more.

Natl Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Business advocate and liaison for LGBT business people providing resources and information about finance, legislation, diversity issues, and more.

Small Business Notes
Website that provides a variety of small business resources for LGBT business owners, including a list of LGBT business groups, demographic data, and financial information.

Start Out

Networking group providing support to LGBT entrepreneurs.


NY Stock Exchange Celebrates Pride Month



On June 7, 2010, Start Out, the LGBT Entrepreneurial Group, rang the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange to commemorate the beginning of gay pride month.  StartOut is a non-profit organization that helps aspiring LGBT entrepreneurs start new companies. StartOut has chapters in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Co-founder Bryan Janeczko says he helps LGBT people start business because "as a gay man" he "always saw things a little bit differently." And in the business world, Bryan mentions, "diversity means innovative solutions to problems."   On June 5, 2009, Leaders of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Congressional representatives visited the NYSE.  In honor of the occasion, Chance Mitchell, co-founder and CEO and Justin Nelson, co-founder and president, rang the closing bell



On June 30, 2006, PFLAG (Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) visited the New york Stock Exchange to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Pride Month and to introduce their new initiative, "Straight for Equality."  In honor of the occasion, PFLAG National President Samuel Thoron rang The Closing Bell.  PFLAG is the nation’s foremost family-based organization committed to the civil rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered persons. Founded in 1973 by mothers and fathers, PFLAG has over 200,000 members and supporters in more than 500 chapters throughout the  United States.




Start Out Rings Opening Bell at NYSE
NGLCC Honor Stonewall Anniversary at NY Stock Exchange
Out & Equal: Special Report


Olivia Named Entrepreneur of the Year



Olivia, The #1 Lesbian Lifestyle Company in the World, announced that Judy Dlugacz, founder and president and Amy Errett, CEO, received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2006 Award in the Consumer Services category in Northern California. According to Ernst & Young, the award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who are building and leading dynamic and growing businesses. Dlugacz and Errett were selected by an independent panel of judges and the award was presented at an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 20th anniversary gala event at The Fairmont, San Francisco.

“For more than 30 years we have been evolving Olivia the company for the benefit of our extraordinary clients. This is an historic award, since we have been recognized by E&Y for doing what we love to do most, which is serving and empowering women, “said Judy Dlugacz, founder and president of Olivia. “Whether it is an Olivia cruise or part of our expanding lifestyle brand, Olivia is always looking for ways to empower, engage, embrace, unite and enrich the lives of lesbians and women of all ages and diverse backgrounds.”   “Being a part of a passionate team is the best part of the job,” said Amy Errett, CEO of Olivia. “It is that passion to provide our clients with countless outstanding services that motivated us to grow into a full services lifestyle brand. We will be launching, an online community, content and resource destination for lesbians, Olivia Magazine, a lifestyle magazine for lesbians, Olivia Membership, a program offering special benefits and resources for lesbians, including insurance and financial services, retail discounts, access to entertainment and heath and fitness resources, and Olivia Living, an active adult resort retirement community.”   The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards program celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and continues to honor entrepreneurs who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. “Ernst & Young is proud of its history in recognizing these outstanding leaders and their companies,” said Rick Fezell, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year program director for Northern California.



Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
QT Magazine



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Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama