National Coming Out Day 2013: 5 Companies We Should Celebrate For 'Coming Out'


It is easier for businesses to cross over into politics than it is to cover on social issues. Both companies on Wall Street and off, big and small, have a social component to them that goes beyond the Human Resources department. A diverse workforce helps the company progress through changing times.

Social issues like Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) affects businesses. As such, they play a role in refuting the negative stereotypes that goes with being a member of the LGBT community.

October 11 is National Coming Out Day (NCOD) and it is not only a way to galvanize individuals in promoting the cause, but companies have been well known to get involved as well. Companies combine the personal with the professional to show that there is nothing wrong with having a different sexual orientation.

Below are five companies that stand out for coming out.

1. AT&T

LEAGUE at AT&T is the first of its kind, a self-titled “community within a community” whose purpose is to assist members of the LGBT community in and out of the company. It is more than an employee resource group (ERG) that targets the areas where LGBT are most often hit hardest, in work and in school.

To counter any discomfort a LGBT member may feel in the workplace, their Safe Space Training Program is meant to create a more inclusive environment. The LEAGUE Foundation offers scholarships to LGBT high school students, having already disbursed $169,500 since 1996. LEAGUE members also offer assistance for students who either dropped out of high school or earned their GED.

2. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola was one of the supporters of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has perennially fallen short of passage in Congress over the years. Even though it has yet to pass, the number one beverage brand has instituted pro-LGBT policies. During NCOD 2012, a Coca-Cola executive wrote a blog post detailing his journey to coming out and how Coca-Cola proved to be an ally.

Marcus Wade, Vice President of Leadership and Internal Communications, described how his company offers benefits, from health to adoption, for employees’ same-sex partners. Just like AT&T, they have their own LGBT ERG. Overall, discrimination of sexual orientation or any other sort is not allowed at Coca-Cola.

3. Facebook

Leading the charge on the social media front, Facebook has even won a GLAAD award in their efforts in protecting the LGBT community.

The “Network of Support” is a gathering of pro-LGBT groups ranging from GLAAD to the Human Rights Campaign. Sara Sperling, Facebook’s head of diversity, helped spearhead the team-ups as a way to promote online safety for LGBT members, particularly when faced with cyberbullying.

4. Bank of America

One of America’s largest banks is using its resources to help LGBT causes. If you remember the Rainbow Card, you likely remember it was created out of a partnership between the Rainbow Endowment and Bank of America. Due to legal battles, the card is no longer offered. Their other card with the Human Rights Campaign also benefits civil causes.Those cards are not the only way Bank of America lends support. Their wealth management advisors offers training to assist with the unique financial situations LGBT members may face, especially in retirement and estate planning.

Bank of America is not the only financial institution supporting this cause.

5. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has been ranked the #1 company for LGBT employees in 2013 by DiversityInc. Their nondiscrimination policy mirrors that of Coca-Cola by protecting employees’ sexual orientation. They specifically have an Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor (ADPA).

Wells Fargo has also lent its support by sponsoring numerous events and organizations such as National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and amfAR, whose goal is to find a cure for HIV/AIDS.

On the other side of the spectrum are companies such as Chick-Fil-A and Barilla have made their position, or at least the position of their standing chief executives, very clear on gay rights. Another pasta producer, Bertolli, even used their competitor’s stance as a way to appeal to gay couples.

The bottom line is this: Companies that refuse to provide a service, or do so reluctantly, are losing customers beyond those they disapprove of.

For a more extensive list of more companies that support LGBT, view the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality.