A Bad Case of "Genvy"
I have a serious case of “genvy” aka gay envy. Each time I’m deluded into thinking I possess panache, wit and a special sense of je ne sais quoi, my gay teenage son smirks at me and quips, “Nice try, alabaster straight man”.
LGBTQ people got game. Carl Nassib just changed the game. Every city in America is tripping over themselves to recruit LGBTQ professionals. And if your brand’s social feed isn’t stacked with rainbows this month, you about as cool as Chik-Fil-A.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Rewind to ten years ago. I was absolutely, positively livid. Prop 8 – a constitutional amendment effectively banning same-sex marriage in California – was jammed into law. This brazen targeting of my LGBTQ friends burned a hole in my sense of social justice. I wanted to do something. Anything.
Then my friend said, “You wanna be a real ally? Come work with me at LA Pride”. Huh?
I slowly picked my slacked jaw up off the floor and said “yes, (I think?)”. One minor problem: I’d never been to the festival and I’d never attended the parade. My son was not out yet. I had this idea that a square, straight white dude barging the LGBTQ community’s most electric celebration would be taken as disingenuous or worse, disrespectful. Like Kanye West bombing an award acceptance speech.
I was likely the first ally to ever work on an LA Pride staff. But my gay friend was secretly schooling me. He didn’t care that I was straight. Or bi. Or trans. What mattered to him was my talent, dedication and ferocious effort.
The learning curve was steep. I didn’t really understand nuances within the culture. I made embarrassing mistakes. I apologized often but learned a whole hell of a lot. In a complete reversal of the common LGBTQ experience, I was accepted, valued and treated with respect.
Wouldn’t it be nice if (mostly straight) Corporate America extended the same courtesy to LGBTQ people?
It’s fashionable these days to talk a big game on inclusion, but who’s actually doing it? And how can you reward socially progressive companies with your investment dollars? What follows is a list of companies I proudly invest in for myself and my clients. According to the community, these organizations earn their rainbow stripes when it comes to taking care of their LGBTQ employees:
1. GOOGLE - Ally and LGBTQ employees have forged a “Gayglers” alliance within the internet search giant. They facilitate strategic relationships with organizations that defend all workers against discrimination in the workplace.
2. MICROSOFT – The Human Rights Campaign regularly assigns the software giant a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index. Their internal LGBTQ resource group, GLEAM has a heavy volunteer and educational presence in their respective communities.
3. APPLE – Besides having an openly gay CEO, the Cupertino giant supports LGBTQ advocacy groups like PFLAG and the Trevor Project to foster change.
4. PAYPAL – North Carolina’s plans for a PayPal headquarters quickly went south in 2016. That’s when the state legislature passed House Bill 2, codifying discrimination against LGBTQs. The fintech’s CEO Dan Schulman effectively said, “Buh-bye” and moved their operations elsewhere.
5. NVIDIA - LGBTQ workers are represented by an internal group that gets annual face time with company CEO Jensen Huang. These sessions help to shape company policy that better serves LGBTQ employees.
Not only does investing in socially progressive companies do good; it also helps investors do well. A study published in Forbes magazine found that diverse and inclusive publicly traded companies are more profitable and sport higher stock valuations.
So there IS a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow after all…
Greg Fields is a Financial Advisor of Santa Monica, Calif-based Gerber Kawasaki Inc., an SEC-registered investment firm with approximately $1.8 billion in assets under management as of 02/22/21. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which course of action may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Readers shouldn't buy any investment without doing their research to determine if the investments are suitable for their situation. “All investments involve risk and one should consult a financial advisor before making any investments. Past performance is not indicative of future results.”