The LGBTQ+ community is big business, with an estimated spend of 1.22 trillion US dollars each year, the community, as a whole, has serious global spending power. With inclusive companies more likely to receive brand loyalty, especially when tailoring products and in showing their support, all of which will likely go a long way to help the profitability of these companies. Regardless of the corporate agenda, motivations or intentions, it is reassuring to see well-known brands showing public support, making clear statements that they are a company that welcomes everyone.
With over 25% of the world’s LGBTQ+ community living in countries in which same-sex relationships are deemed illegal under the law and where some countries even enforce a death penalty if an individual is prosecuted, there are some people, right now living in fear of being their true self. Many of these barbaric laws and practices are in countries that are supported by regimes that have longevity due to the country’s economic wealth, achieved with the help of their trading partners. According to the 17th-century Italian military general, Raimondo Montecuccoli, he stated that three things were needed in war, money, money and money, that statement is also correct when it comes to sustaining a country and its regime.
Often a significant component of the economies within these countries will involve the exporting of products and services that are sold around the world. Though these products may be shipped all over the world, many are often hidden within supply chains, with consumers unaware that these products or services are being used in the production or packaging of popular products, services and brands. If countries and companies alike reviewed their supply chains and adopted an approach of zero tolerance on barbaric practices, it would likely put pressure on many of the regimes to change. Of course, it is naive to believe that you can change a culture, belief system or even the mindsets of an entire nation, however small changes can often have a significant impact. If just 1 of the 12 countries that still have a death penalty, which is currently enforced for same-sex prosecutions, abolished that form of punishment, then at least those living in that country would not be literally in fear of their lives. If 2 of 72 changed the legal status of same-sex relationships, it would mean many living in those countries would no longer have to live in fear of the law.
You may ask what can countries and companies do; one such example is free trade coffee. In the coffee industry, many now follow free trade practices, a practice that has been in place since the 1960s and which was put in place because many within the supply chain were historically being exploited. Often now when you go to the stores, you will pick up coffee where the packaging clearly states that it is free trade, with consumers purchasing the product knowing that the practices have been followed in the manufacturing and production of that particular brand of coffee. The adoption of free trade has been so widespread that is hard to find coffee now that does not display the logo. If products had an ethnical partners badge could it work in a similar way?
Let’s take an example of cheese production, though many of the ingredients such as the milk and rennet might be sourced locally, some of the elements and even the packaging might not. It is common practice for large scale manufactures and production lines to source products from around the world, and often companies look for competitively priced products that offer bulk-purchasing discounts, with some of these products coming from countries that have serious human rights issues. Many consumers are unaware of the entire supply chain, so quite often they believe they are buying ethical products, unaware that elements of the product were sourced from countries that violate human rights. If companies were to adopt a badge or logo similar to that of the free trade, then consumers would be aware that the product or service they are purchasing is from an ethical supply chain. The more products sourced only through ethical supply chains, the more the pressure is put on companies and countries that are human rights violators.
Ultimately it is consumer power; it may in the short-term increase production costs by a small amount, but it would inevitably make countries and corporations think twice about how they treat individuals under their charge. Religion and state should be separate and personal beliefs should not dictate the laws or penalties within any given country. Everyone around the world should at least have certain rights and ultimately protection under the law, regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. So, to answer the question, companies and countries could do more going forward by ensuring that they trade with countries that meet a minimum level regarding the treatment of human rights.