HOW TO Create
Pfizer’s diversity-leadership team has part-
nered with the procurement department to
expand contract-bidding opportunities to
LGBT-owned enterprises. Earlier this year,
vendors certified by the National Gay and
Lesbian Chamber of Commerce were added
to the company’s supplier database, and
Pfizer has already contracted new business to a lesbian-owned
Likewise, American Express has been building a database of
LGBT-owned suppliers and, with its recently announced head
of procurement, will begin opening up contract opportunities to
these vendors for products and services. In the LGBT community, “supplier diversity really makes a difference,” says Peraino.
“We’re going to make sure the focus gets shined on that within
the coming year.”
When Atlanta-based Southern Company
decided several years ago to assess
its benefit offerings to make sure they
aligned with both the current and future
workforce, “an evolving benefits package” was created that just happened to
include LGBT talent, explains Marsha
Johnson, senior vice president of human
resources and chief diversity officer.
Do’s and Don’ts
Having since rolled out domestic-partner
benefits, the utility became eligible for the
DiversityInc Top 50 competition and earned
a spot on the DiversityInc 25 Noteworthy
Companies list this year. DiversityInc
first added same-sex domestic-partner/
spousal benefits to the DiversityInc Top
50 criteria in 2007 because an employer
cannot have a truly inclusive workplace if it excludes certain groups.
Having an LGBT-friendly company has an
added benefit: It helps form an affinity with
allied groups. Four years ago, when Pfizer
introduced its Pride Journal (a collection of
heartfelt first-person accounts written by
LGBT or allied employees that’s posted on its
intranet during the month of June), a healthy dialogue on sexual-
orientation and gender-identity discrimination was started. “That
really put issues of LGBT rights on the map for our broader col-
league population,” says Nicholas Patrick, manager of worldwide
communications and co-chair of both OPEN and the Pfizer Global
Similarly, when American Express rolled out its global branding campaign that featured, among other stars, lesbian talk-show
host Ellen DeGeneres, it became an instant hit with all consumers. So for all corporate leaders who fear the backlash of aligning
the business with the LGBT community, take a tip from Peraino:
“There really is no downside.” I
“We’re responding to an
whose needs are
quite different from
the workforce we’ve
had in the past.”
TO INTRODUCE DOMESTIC-PARTNER BENEFITS:
Do garner leadership support.
To gain senior-management buy-in, point out
how the benefits will help attract and retain
the widest pool of talent, suggests Johnson.
It’s also important to “state clearly that the
policies are designed to foster an atmosphere of fairness and professional respect
at work, and not to change personal values,”
advises the Human Rights Campaign.
Don’t overlook the long-term
Accounting giant KPMG, which also offers
same-sex domestic-partner/spousal benefits,
is in the process of implementing a policy
whereby people who access these benefits
will be able to have their taxes equalized
“so there’s not a negative tax impact,” says
Global Grants Program Partner Timothy Stiles.
Do study competitors’ benefits.
“We look at the companies with which we
will have to compete for talent and compare the stumbling blocks,” says Johnson.
“I want to make sure we’re positioning
Southern to get its fair share of talent. In
fact, I want more than my fair share.”
Don’t stop at domestic-partner benefits.
In addition to weaving inclusive language
into its benefits infrastructure—such as
expanding the definition of “family”—
Southern Company added parental leave
and adoption benefits last January for all
employees. “All of these things say that we’re
responding to an emerging workforce whose
needs are quite different from the workforce
we’ve had in the past,” says Johnson.