Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Lgbt Economy Is America's Future

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Lgbt Economy Is America's Future

Article excerpt

We have a Lot more power than we think we do. Now's the time to use it.

MONEY TALKS. And now, more than ever, the private sector is listening to the collective voice of the LGBT community. In many ways, our dollar is as strong as our votes at the ballot box. We have fought hard to secure our rights in the name of equality, but our true equity and ability to bring about change for our community lies with our economic power. Our buying power and impact on the nation's gross domestic product have given us tremendous leverage to advance political advocacy and global human rights. As is true with our social visibility, our economic visibility is essential in building a diverse and inclusive society--and the power of the LGBT dollar is becoming more and more visible every day.

That was the impetus for the formation of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) 15 years ago. In 2002, we realized no one had truly considered the economic equality of LGBT people or the impact economics could have on the equality movement. With over 1.4 million LGBT business owners (and growing) behind us, we have seen the LGBT community earn its place at the table of economic opportunity.

Two decades ago, slapping a rainbow on a liquor bottle one month a year was enough for a brand to consider themselves "gay-friendly." Findings from LGBT economic experts, however, have taught corporations the value of LGBT brand loyalty. More than 75 percent of LGBT adults and their friends, family, and relatives say they would switch to brands that are known to be LGBT friendly. In 2017 alone, the LGBT consumer buying power was over $917 billion.

This business case for LGBT economic inclusion has resulted in LGBT-inclusive advertising being visibly seen year-round-not just during Pride season. The companies who are scoring top marks on the Human Rights Commission's Corporate Equality Index (an annual report rating American businesses on their treatment of LGBT employees and consumers) see us, hear us, and have placed a premium on doing right by us. Yet, as Bob Witeck (head of Witeck Communications, which has consulted with brands like WalMart on reaching LGBT consumers) said during the release of NGLCC's groundbreaking report, America's LGBT Economy, "While LGBT spending power highlights our market clout, the jobs, tax revenues, and profits we create as employers and entrepreneurs define our full economic value to America. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of our potential."

If the total contributed value of the estimated 1.4 million American LGBT business owners is considered, our input to the economy is over $1. …

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