June represents pride celebrations across the globe, including in Australia, Canada, Cuba, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the UK and the U.S. It is a time to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities and continue driving towards equal justice and opportunity across our societies.

Unfortunately, this year, we start pride with a backdrop of anti-LGBTQ+ hate. In the U.S. alone we are seeing some 500+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills in state legislatures across the country, focusing on limiting or rolling back previously acknowledged civil rights, free speech and expression, healthcare, education, transgender rights and public accommodation. In addition, we continue to see rising threats across the globe, most recently in Uganda, which enacted the toughest anti-LGBTQ+ law in the world.    

Edelman has compiled many Trust reports on Business and the LGBTQ+ community. In our recent reports focusing on Racial Justice, Trust in Brands, Trust in the Workplace and The Changing Role of the Corporation in Society, for which we partnered directly with GLAAD, we have amassed multiple relevant insights.  

Here are our top data observations:

  1. We Need Business to Step Up — Nearly sixty percent (59%) of respondents say that business could have a positive impact in protecting LGBTQ+ rights if it devoted sufficient resources to the issue. This is most evident among younger respondents (18-34) at 65%, also more for men (63%) than women (56%).
  2. CEOs Must Speak Out — Company leaders are expected to inform and shape policy debates on LGBTQ+ issues. This is again highest among the younger respondents (63%) and African American employees (66%).
  3. Employees Want to Work for Employers that Support LGBTQ+ Rights — By 4.5 to 1, I am more likely to work for a company that demonstrates a commitment to expanding and protecting LGBTQ+ rights. The younger contingent is higher at 5.5x, African American employees even higher at 7x. 
  4. Consumers Are Twice as Likely to Buy Brands that Support LGBTQ+ Rights — By a 2:1 margin, consumers are more likely to buy brands that support LGBTQ+ rights. This is universal across race, gender, and age group.

This data creates an imperative for corporate business leaders to speak out on these issues, not just because it is the right thing to do, but also to effectively attract and retain staff. Consumers are more likely to buy brands that support LGBTQ+ rights, but marketers need to understand audience expectations when finalizing their strategies and be prepared for possible public and political backlash.  Without doubt, it has become increasingly challenging for brands and marketers to engage in political and societal discussions, and it is today essential that marketers drive an understanding across internal stakeholders around potential organizational risk. At Edelman, we understand this challenge and our OutFront taskforce works with clients to bring the best LGBTQ+ campaigns to market in a thoughtful and impactful way, whilst managing business risk.  

At Edelman this month, we celebrate the contributions of our LGBTQ+ employees and of the broader LGBTQ+ community, and we reaffirm our commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ equality. As an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, having being one of the first CEOs to speak at Davos on the topic, I will continue to drive support for the community, and Edelman will continue working closely with leading LGBTQ+ organizations, such as GLAAD, HRC, NCLR, and the Trevor Project, each of which supports the LGBTQ+ community in unique and important ways, to learn and drive understanding for our clients and teams.  

Richard Edelman is CEO.