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GAY RECRUITING - LGBT Staffing Critical to a Diversity Strategy

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Martin deCampoThe facts:  the Annual Value of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Market is $625 Billion USD and represents a diverse population that simply will not and should not be ignored.  Other stats will simply astound you!  Consider that the Average Household Income of LGBT households exceeds $58,624 (45% above national average!), and Lesbian households have an Average Household Income of $45,755 (28% above national average!). 

Moreover, 15% of Gay households possess annual incomes over $100,000, while 4% of Lesbian households exceed $100,000.  More impressive yet is that 62% of Gay households are college graduates, while for Lesbian households the figure is 59%.  This incredibly high level of education among Gays and Lesbians gives rise to the fact that 47% of Gay households hold Professional/Managerial jobs while the same number for Lesbian households is 40%… and the ultimate factor is that most of the LGBT households are double income, with no child dependency burdens.

Other areas that are showing the enormous strength and vitality of the LGBT population that are also worth noting are in advertising dollars spent.  Advertisement spending in the gay press reached $105.4 million this year, a 39.9% increase over 1997, according to the fifth annual Mulryan/Nash Gay Press Report, a national study of ad spending and editorial content in the 138 gay-targeted print publications across the U.S. (GLINN Media Corporation).  Even XM satellite radio recently announced their plans to rollout a 24 hour a day Gay / Lesbian centric radio channel nationwide!  Many companies have already expressed interest in purchasing advertising time for their recruitment efforts.


To the homophobic, socially immature and ignorant business leaders any whisper of considering LGBT populations as part of the “diversity talent umbrella” is heresy!  Honestly, I’m really stupefied and tired of the level of ignorance and homophobia I have observed from people holding titles from recruiter to VP of human resources.  Yes, even VP of human resources (a high title, virtue does not make)!  I’ve even been astonished to find ironic, but tragic discrimination within fellow diversity “experts” that unfortunately have perpetuated “door shutting” rather than “welcome mats” to the LGBT populations.  This perilous infighting within some diversity circles must stop immediately, lest we further strengthen the opponents of national economic inclusion.


It has become apparent to most human capitalists in the know, that in the very near future, diversity will be a differentiator amongst the US Fortune 1000 landscape that will separate the highly successful from the marginal (or bankrupt?).  If you read my last diversity feature 6 Quick and Dirty Diversity Recruitment Tactics I quoted the ominous and dire statistics that Alexis Herman, the previous US Secretary of Labor mentioned in her keynote speech at the last ERExpo in San Diego.  Fasten you seatbelts, because if you haven’t heard yet, according to Ms. Herman, there will be a profound labor shortage of 13 to 19 million open positions that will NOT be filled towards the end of this decade and over 85% of the additions to the labor supply in the upcoming years will be comprised of people of color, immigrants, women, and people with physical challenges.  Such ominous projections should not only convert the nay-sayers into proponents of diversity, but should scare them good and hard into promoting and deploying a measurable and effective diversity program with strong ROI!  Thus, the LGBT population should and must be part of such a strong and viable diversity initiative.


Those recruiters and HR professionals that continue to consider people of color, women and the disabled peoples as the ONLY diverse talent pools “worthy” of their diversity attention and continue to avoid the LGBT populations will likely negate their diversity efforts.  The entire concept behind the diversity craft theory is to evolve inclusive (not exclusive) organizations that make ALL diverse employees feel more valued and welcomed.  Such programs will always succeed in attracting and retaining talented people from diverse communities that inform their respective companies on how they can more effectively market its products and services to the dominant diverse global populations.  Any exclusion of the LGBT populace from diversity strategies, considering diversity’s purpose, the LGBT population’s numbers and their economic power is not only foolish, but a sure fire way to corporate failure.


Well, there are at least 3 other reasons (besides the ones above) why the LGBT population should be a diverse talent pool that your corporate recruiting strategy should pursue.  These reasons are:

1)     LGBT inclusion increases your diversity selection criteria.

2)     LGBT workforce = LGBT clients!

3)     Many companies are already successfully inclusive of the LGBT!

1)   Increase your diversity selection criteria. Unless you’ve been living under a rock in an isolated island somewhere for the last 12 years, most successful human capitalists and talent acquisition professionals who are at the forefront of best practices know that an effective diversity staffing initiative includes the attraction and retention of top-notch LGBT talent.  Although the LGBT population has been called the “invisible” workforce, it’s quickly becoming more significant with each passing month.  According to Out & Equal Workplace Advocates in San Francisco, up to 12% of the workforce population is LGBT.  That’s right, look around your offices and workplaces, there are already a substantial number of LGBT workers around you.  Many perhaps are still private, but the fact remains that no matter what product or service your company sells, no organization can afford to ignore 12% of the national workforce.

Even colleges and universities have realized the necessity to recruit for talented LGBT people.  In fact, I believe the academic world was responsible for initiating the whole effort to give LGBT recruitment its rightful place underneath the ever-widening diversity banner.  It was in the Boston school district that the first ever college recruitment fair for LGBT high school students was held where schools like Harvard, Yale, Brown, Stanford, Grinnell, and a host of other universities participated.

If you speak to any college recruiter today, they’ll tell you that Gay teens are often very high achieving and driven students. Young students that have “come out” (publicly announced and embraced their sexual orientation) have gone through a major psychological rite-of-passage that helps them become more mature, develop their leadership skills, and challenges them to cultivate their individuality.  Out of the dozen or so college recruiters I’ve spoken to not one has ever had any statistics to back up this claim, but they make the claim nonetheless.  Frankly, if you stop and think about it, the pursuit of LGBT students for higher learning institutions makes perfect sense.  After all, universities like businesses desire a diverse population, an innovative student population, students that question the norms that society fears challenging.  And so it is that tomorrow’s student members of university Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Associations, will likely be the future innovators of the American economy.  Like in corporations that have successfully diversified their workforces, universities know that diversified student bodies make people question their own assumptions, and after all isn’t that the key to learning and growing as individuals?

2)   LGBT workforce = LGBT clients! According to the Mulryan/Nash Gay Press Report many media metric tracking sites have reported that the gay press has once again emerged as the fastest growing print/ad market in the US.  The fact is that for the past three consecutive years, gay-press ad revenues have grown faster than those in both the mainstream press and other niche markets.  When you compare the 12.9% growth of Gay ad revenues over 1996 to mainstream newspapers (as reported by the Newspaper Association of America), you’ll note that ad spending in mainstream magazines grew by just 11.2%, according to the Publisher's Information Bureau. However, ad revenues in the Hispanic press grew by just 11% according to Hispanic Business News and advertising directed at African Americans grew an estimated 2.1% according to Target Market News (no print-only breakdown was available).  The fact is that this increased level of advertising to the LGBT population means that more and more of America’s business sector understands that this population is indeed a significant purchasing power.  Recruiters and HR professionals must now catch up and assure equally significant LGBT representation within corporate workforces.

3)  Many companies are already successfully inclusive of the LGBT! The future is here friends.  Including the LGBT population into your diversity strategy is not a political or philosophical decision, rather it is good strategic business and progressive human resources.  There are already many companies that have wisely included LGBT diversity initiatives into their corporate imperatives.  These companies are reaching out both at the recruiting level and in the LGBT market to further expand their sales reach and exposure.  For profiles of LGBT friendly companies go to: .


Consider the domestic partner benefits changes that many companies have made.  Many organizations that used to exclude domestic partners as beneficiaries are reassessing their policies and have now reversed their position.  Leading the way to beneficiary change is the largest company in the world, General Motors.  GM has rewritten their benefit policies to include not only unmarried partners of the same or opposite sex, but anyone the employee specifies.  "For us, it's a big change," said Lorna Utley, GM's director of diversity initiatives. “The family has changed, and we need to adjust to that. Our goal is to improve the work environment for everyone."


Another company setting new trends is Ford, which has really embraced and even treaded new innovative paths in the area of diversity/LGBT staffing.  Ford was perhaps the first company in the Fortune 50 to raise the bar with its LGBT strategies by having placed a national ad in "Diversity Careers in Engineering and Information Technology" magazine. The ad, a first of its kind for the automaker, featured openly LGBT employees and management staff.  In fact, in the past year both Ford and GM have successfully placed full-page LGBT specific ads in various national magazines. Recently, Ford decided to outperform its previous efforts by stepping up its outreach through its LGBT employee group, Ford GLOBE.  Ford has sent its GLOBE group and corporate recruiters to the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgendered Ally College Conference for more than four years now.  Many recruiters that have been personally involved in LGBT recruitment outreach indicate that having a presence at such conferences profits the company by drawing in new hires that want to work in an atmosphere where their sexual orientation isn't an issue.  Many of my recruitment colleagues that have observed these successful LGBT staffing initiatives report that many of these same LGBT candidates later return as employees and get personally involved with the recruiting process with some even sharing with potential candidates via group chats about their positive company experiences.


Remember, there is still much ignorance in the world against the LGBT population.  These fears over intolerant people are even more accentuated when you‘re a young Gay or Lesbian student.  Some students that have been involved in collegiate extracurricular LGBT activities become concerned about what potential after college employers will think about such activities.  At Humanatek, we often advise our recruiters and client recruiters to encourage all student applicants during the interview process to feel absolutely open and worry free about their work or volunteer experience in the gay community.

Humanatek’s college recruiting strategy focuses on identifying specific leadership behaviors and such leadership behaviors are important no matter what kind of organization the student worked for.


There are many other organizations that have successfully broken new ground in Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender recruiting such as General Electric, Boeing, IBM, the NYPD, SFPD and Boston PD, but these organizations are still a very small minority rather than the norm.  This concerns me very deeply.  When you consider the potentially prophetic warnings that US Secretary of Labor, Alexis Herman announced last month, about the impending workforce shortage, it would seem that these companies that are successfully diversifying today will have a more profitable time navigating the US economy in the near future… the rest will not only lack “navigation” but may very well be lost altogether.  At least they can’t say they weren’t warned.

That’s it for this week, until next time, let me know your thoughts, and let me how I can be of service.



H. Martin de’Campo is a managing principal of HUMANATEK GROUP, a professional recruiting consultancy and a columnist and commentator on various business media venues on topics involving national employment/labor economics, strategic corporate recruiting, and diversity careers & staffing.  Previously, he was a William Keck Fellow at the University of Southern California; an Alfred Sloan Foundation Fellow (Research) while attending the University of California, Berkeley; in 2006 Human Capital Magazine featured him as a “Future HR Thought Leader of America;” and in 2009 Martin and Humanatek’s staff were awarded “Outstanding Service Recognition” by  Senator Diane Feinstein and Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigoza.  Martin is the author of numerous articles on employment/labor economics, human resources and recruiting and has appeared on TV & radio programs and countless business journals.  To reach Martin and Humanatek recruiting services (retained & RPO) visit:

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