LGBT Corporate Policies—Do Unto Others As You Would Have Done to You (and increase profits while you’re at it)

Amy Gluck, FisherBroyles Partner By:  Amy Epstein Gluck, FisherBroyles Partner

September 21, 2016 — It turns out that not only is treating people equally regardless of their gender identity or sexual preference the right thing to do as a human being, but it can also boost your company’s profitability.

Hand put coin to money

That’s right.  Your company may actually profit from being responsible and decent!  How often does that happen?

Core Values felt tip pen concept (Click for more)

Why did I put the phrase above in bold and italics? Because, darn it, if a financial incentive is what it takes to get more companies to adopt and adhere to LGBT policies, I’ll say it in a fancy font with all caps too!


Currently, federal law does not prohibit employers from terminating an employee due to his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite the Obergefell decision, which legalized same-sex marriage, the Equality Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would legally prohibit discrimination on the specific bases of sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private workplaces, continues to languish in Congress.  The incongruous effect, as I’ve talked about here and here, is that an employee can be married to a same-sex partner on a Sunday and then fired on Monday.

However, this recent study—“Do LGBT-supportive Corporate Policies Enhance Firm Performance?” by Cal State Fullerton associate professor of management Dr. Shaun Pichler and his colleagues—indicates that the answer is YES and then some. Supportive LGBT polices not only seem to augment a company’s performance overall, but lead to increased profitability as well.

The study found that R&D-focused companies that adopted LGBT-supportive policies had a 21.1% higher firm value, 3.41% increase in employee productivity, and a 12.5% bump in firm profitability.

Those are some pretty strong numbers.

But what about other companies that do not emphasize research and development?

Still an increase. Other businesses that adopted LGBT-supportive policies had a 2.65% higher employee productivity and a whopping 25% increase in firm profitability.

The District of Columbia and 22 other states already protect workers from sexual orientation discrimination though less protect employees from discrimination based on their gender identity. However, even if your company is not in one of these states and even if Congressional action continues to stall on the Equality Act making LGBT discrimination explicitly illegal, you can make it illegal in your workplace. And increase your productivity and profits while you’re at it. It’s a win-win!

Employer Takeaway:

As Mom and Dad always told you (or at least mine did when breaking up fights between my younger brother and me—but that’s a different story): TREAT OTHER PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED. Now, I’ve added the shout-y capitals, and you can understand why.

This maxim should be ubiquitous in our culture and our workplace. Yet it is not.

But, adoption of and adherence to LGBT anti-discrimination policies can result in less attrition, a higher caliber of more skilled employees, and financial gain.

This should be a no-brainer.

By:  Amy Epstein Gluck

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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]