The Burson-Marsteller Blog What’s Love Got to Do With It: Corporate Engagement in the LGBTQ Movement

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The Burson-Marsteller Blog What’s Love Got to Do With It: Corporate Engagement in the LGBTQ Movement

By Jessica Thurston and Elizabeth Okey
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Corporate Engagement in #LGBTQ Movement - a piece by @LizOkey @jess_thurston @B_M #BursonPRide

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 12:00pm


June is National LGBTQ Pride month, when members and allies of the LGBTQ community celebrate and embrace diversity, proudly waving rainbow flags at events across the United States and around the world. Historically, this celebration was limited to individuals who privately identified with the community.

Today, LGBTQ topics are increasingly in the spotlight, signaling an important shift framing a broader cultural narrative. More and more individuals and organizations are publicly taking a stance and engaging in conversations previously viewed as taboo. Why are they doing this, and what is the best next step for them to take?

In 2010, I waved a rainbow flag onboard a corporate float in the Chicago Pride Parade. Afterward, a friend asked me, “Why in the world is a Fortune 500 company in a Pride parade?” The answer to her question was clear to me: The adult beverage company supported a sports team of which I was a part. But her bigger question stuck with me: Why did this company have a float in the gay pride parade? What was in it for them?

Companies’ shift toward embracing the equality movement signals not just alignment with key stakeholders – including customers – but a cultural awareness that they will need to survive among consumers and employees for whom tolerance is, today, a baseline expectation for any organization hoping to last. In order to operate effectively, corporations need to engage a wide audience and move beyond measuring success by financial reporting alone. Business success means attracting and retaining human capital. So how is corporate engagement with the LGBTQ community taking shape?

Read more about corporate engagement and the LGBTQ movement

Elizabeth Okey is a Senior Associate of Corporate Responsibility at Burson-Marsteller. She is valiant member of the LGBTQ community and passionate about corporate responsibility and conscious capitalism.

Jessica Thurston is a Manager of Corporate Responsibility at Burson-Marsteller. She is a noble ally of the LGBTQ community and committed to sustainability and responsible environmental impact.


Keywords: Diversity & Human Resources | Burson-marsteller | Community | Corporate Engagement | Engagement | LGBTQ Movement | LGBTQ Pride Month | Volunteerism & Community Engagement | business strategy