Guide, app help consumers leverage LGBT dollars

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Back unions? Support fair trade? Go organic? Check the labels and packaging.

Shop local? That can be as simple as stepping outside the apartment.

But patronizing businesses that support LGBT equality? That’s more complicated, which is why the Human Rights Campaign produces an annual “Buying for Workplace Equality” guide that consumers will find on the organization’s website, www.hrc.org, as well as in app stores.

The guide won’t help consumers find the friendliest small businesses; the best tools for that are recommendations from community members, groups and publications – and the rainbow flag sticker on the door.

But the guide can assist consumers headed for department stores, the outlet malls and shopping centers.

“With Buying for Workplace Equality, we hope to harness the LGBT community’s $790 billion in buying power by providing you with the most accurate review of a business’s workplace policies toward LGBT employees,” says HRC staffer Liz Cooper. “Whether you are buying a cup of coffee, renovating your home, or looking for the perfect gift, by supporting businesses that support workplace equality you send a powerful message that LGBT inclusion is good for the bottom line.”

The guide scores companies and then offers easy to read color-coded ratings – green for those that score the best on equality, yellow for the middle-range scores and red for the lowest scores.

Looking for a shoe? Nike is color-coded green with a score of 100 percent, while Brown Shoe, which produces the Avia brand, is color-coded red with a score of 35.

The guide contains scores for general retail, home and garden, banking and finance, apparel and accessories, restaurants, oil and gas, health and beauty, entertainment, travel and leisure, technology, pet care, fun and games, automotive, shipping, publishing, insurance and health care.

High-scoring, large retailers include: Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, eBay, GameStop, Limited, Office Depot, Sears, Staples, Supervalu, Target, TJX, Walgreens, Amazon.com, Crate and Barrel, Costco, Hallmark Cards, REI, Kroger, Safeway and Williams-Sonoma.  

Low-scoring large retailers include: Dollar General, H-E-B, True Value, BJ’s, Brown Shoe, Ann Taylor, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dillard’s, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Lowe’s, RadioShack, Trader Joe’s, Wawa, Meijer, Aaron’s, Ace Hardware, Bass Pro, Belk, Big Lots, Children’s Place, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Jo-Ann Stores, Kohl’s, Michaels, Pier 1, Sally Beauty, The Container Store, The Pantry, Weis, Winn-Dixie, Zales, A&P, Brooks Brothers, Discount Tires, Harris Teeter, HSN, Liberty Interactive, O’Reilly Automotive, Publix Super Markets, Rent-A-Center, Sheetz and 84 Lumber.

Texting for equality

You’re standing in a store aisle trying to choose between brands. The products are similar. The prices are about the same. But what about the manufacturer’s records on LGBT issues? The newest tool for the “Buying for Workplace Equality” campaign is the ability to get ratings via text messages. Consumers can text SHOP to 30644 and then send a company or product name to get a rating. Handy.