Homosexual Group Urges 'Buying for Equality' Over Holidays
(CNSNews.com) - One of the nation's largest homosexual advocacy groups issued a buyer's guide on Monday to help "fair-minded consumers" make purchasing decisions this holiday season based on a company's score regarding equality for GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) people.
While promoting the "Buying for Equality 2007" guide, Daryl Herrschaft, director of the Workplace Project of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said the publication "will be an essential tool to inform the purchasing decisions of GLBT people and our allies who support equality and fairness in the workplace."
The 18-page document "is based on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a report card on which companies support workplace fairness for GLBT people and which still have more work to do," Herrschaft noted in a telephone conference with reporters.
"This year, a record 138 companies received a 100 percent score" on the CEI, which Herrschaft called "a significant increase from the 101 companies that earned" the same rating last year and "a tenfold increase from when we started the CEI in 2002, with only 13 companies scoring 100 percent that year."
"In order to attain a perfect score, companies have to have things like non-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity, domestic partner benefits and inclusion of transgender wellness benefits in their health insurance policies," he noted.
"The buyer's guide uses the companies' scores to categorize more than 1,000 brands into red, yellow and green categories" from 0 to 100 percent, Herrschaft said. "Red means try to avoid the brand and shop somewhere else, while green means that the company has scored one of our highest scores this year."
Herrschaft listed a number of examples from the new publication. "In the electronics industry, Best Buy scores in the green category and Radio Shack in red. Whole Foods is in green, versus Kroger, which has a red."
The guide also lists several comparisons, using percentages rather than colors.
"It's not delivery, it's DiGiorno," the document states. "Domino's scores only a 45, while Kraft Foods' DiGiorno gets 100 percent.
"Need to fill 'er up? Make a stop at BP and Shell stations," the guide notes. "Drive by ExxonMobil, which scores a 0.
"Looking for life insurance?" the publication asks. "Think about Prudential or MetLife with 100 over Transamerica, which only scores a 35."
"The guide itself is a powerful tool to make change in corporations by directly showing that their profitability is linked to fairness and equality, and this guide makes it clear that fairness and equality are good for the bottom line," Herrschaft added.
Another participant in Monday's telephone conference was Wes Combs, president of Wes Combs Communications, who stated that the size of the GLBT market is estimated at more than 15 million Americans over 18 years of age, roughly 6 percent of the U.S. population.
"The buying power of that market is estimated at $641 billion in 2006," Combs said. On a per-capita basis, the people in this part of the market spend significantly more for certain products "because this segment does not have a high incidence of children in their households."
"So the extra income most people spend on children, this segment is spending on themselves, from upgrading to the latest and greatest products to taking more vacations," he noted.
In addition, "GLBT consumers are far more interested in supporting companies that treat their employees equally," Combs added, "as well as companies that tailor their marketing outreach to this segment."
"Last year, the guide was downloaded more than 250,000 times from our website," Herrschaft stated, and another 50,000 printed copies were distributed across the country. "We encourage everyone to share this information with their friends, families and co-workers this weekend and take it with you when you go to the mall.
"Corporate America has moved rapidly to advance equality and equal treatment and benefits in the workplace for GLBT people, as is evidenced by a lot of companies that show up in the green in the buyer's guide," he added. "We hope you'll make the right choice for equality."
Tim Wildmon, president of the conservative American Family Association, told Cybercast News Service that the HRC "obviously has a right to put out whatever they want to put out on companies."
However, Wildmon criticized the corporations that received positive ratings from the advocacy group because "we feel they should stay neutral on the culture war and not give money to homosexual, lesbian and transgender causes."
"That's our primary beef with these corporations, not necessarily what they do internally, but what they're doing externally to support a lifestyle and a behavior we believe is destructive, immoral and unnatural," he said.
"And many millions of Americans agree with that philosophy," Wildmon added.
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