Most customers would prefer to spend their money with GLBT-friendly companies, an encouraging fact for the raft of big businesses who have signed on to the new Pride In Diversity (PID) campaign.

Some of Australia’s largest employers, including IBM, ING Australia, the Defence Department and the Australian Federal Police, have become founding members of the new ACON initiative to promote GLBT diversity in the workplace.

Working with human resources departments to implement gay and lesbian-friendly policies, diversity training and employee networks, the PID  program is an active one, with benefits for business and the community.

“There are statistics to show that 42 percent of straight customers and 72 percent of gay customers are less likely to buy products from organisations that hold negative views of GLBT employees,” PID director Dawn Hough said, pointing to the economic and branding benefits, as well as the added benefit of increasing staff retention rates.

With 60 percent of gay and lesbian  people having reported some sort of harassment at work, creating an inclusive environment is important to employees and their health.

“We need to look at the education process and make organisations realise that culture plays a huge role in whether someone is comfortable being out in the workplace. If they’re not comfortable,  that editing of conversations and being scared your manager will walk down the street while you’re with your partner, has absolutely detrimental health benefits,” Hough said.

For member organisations, this is “not just a hand over your money and use our logo”, affair, according to Hough.
Providing hands-on consultation processes, businesses will be assisted in building up diversity in stages. These stages will later be gauged by Australia’s first workplace equality index.

To feature on this list, which is closely based on the UK Stonewall group’s workplace index, companies will have to provide evidence of their efforts to build a GLBT-friendly workplace. Now seen as a coveted marketing tool in the UK, it is hoped to have the same impact on business here.

The PiD supporters are:

IBM, KPMG, ING Australia, Goldman Sachs JBWere, Lend Lease, the Department of Defence, the Australian Federal Police and Telstra.

info: Pride in Diversity will be launched on Wednesday, February 10. For more information visit www.prideindiversity.com.au

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