June 30th 2006 was the date.  The place was the New York Stock Exchange.  History was made when the first organization that represented the families and allies of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) was invited to ring the Closing Bell (SM) at the NYSE. PFLAG's trip to wall street was to "ring the closing bell on homophobia".  It was also an opportunity for the organization to openly discuss the exponentially growing significance of the buying power of LGBT Americans especially when coupled with the buying power of their families and supporters.

Purchasing power of the LGBT American community reached $641 Billion in 2006.  2012 projections have that same purchasing power reaching $2 Trillion.  Now include the purchasing power of millions of family and friends who show powerful loyalty to fair-minded and inclusive corporations and their products.  A picture should be forming in your mind that you just cannot ignore.  Basically, equality is good for business.

Nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies embrace LGBT friendly practices including domestic partner benefits, non-discrimination policy, and they also lend financial support to organizations working to promote equality and diversity.  A partial list of the corporations that supported PFLAG's appearance that historic day were Wyndam Hotels & Resorts, American Airlines, Pfizer, Chubb, NGLCC, The CitiGroup Foundation, LOGO, Dow, and IBM.

In a nutshell, it just makes good sense to look closely at your organizations direction on inclusion and diversity when it comes to courting the LGBT American segment of the market.   It takes a long hard look at the direction of your leadership and the mission of your organization to see if you are TRULY seen as a friendly place to do business.  A progressive company that really cares about ALL its customers equally and inclusively.

Step one is to look at your staffing model.  The basics is to recruit a staff that is representative of the community that you serve.  Communities are forever changing as people move up and move on.  Are you keeping pace with the face of the people you serve?  Or do you still look like a 1950's Norman Rockwell painting?  I cannot stress the importance of having the right staff to serve the community you do business in.  You will not have a good experience in China if all your staff speaks only German.  It sounds ridiculous, however this happens everyday.  Please spare me the speech about what always worked in the past.  The past customer isn't here anymore and you are completely alienating today's cash carrying patrons.  Time to change with the times.

Step two is to look at your branding and positioning in the market.  Do you appear like a place your community would like to do business with?  Major companies from automobile to computer manufacturers have taken notice and have taken the lead in ensuring that they positioned themselves to be "the ones to watch" in the eyes of the global communities they serve.  It is your responsibility to recognize what matters most to the consumers you need.  More importantly, after you identify those important things, you must be able to pull the levers that will get your organization to the top of the consumers mind and tip of their tongue.  Once you have them interested and coming in, your correctly trained and diversified staff should be able to "close the deal" and create a loyal and "sticky" customer.  This leads to brand loyalty, retention, and most importantly, profits.

Look, it all boils down to recognizing that the weather DOES in fact change.  Your job is to see whats on the horizon and prepare your organization to make the BEST out of all the conditions.

As always, 925HIRE is here to help.  Contact one of our Inclusion Specialist with any and all your questions at www.925hire.com.

The Inclusionist.


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