Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Graduates

Are you a member of the LGBTQ+ community preparing for your first job out of college or looking to make a switch? Discover LGBTQ+-friendly workplaces.

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by Meredith Schneider

Published on June 6, 2022 · Updated on June 25, 2022

Reviewed by Angelique Geehan

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Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Graduates
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Are you graduating soon and searching for places to work? Life after graduation can be difficult to navigate, especially if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community. But what does LGBTQ+ stand for, exactly? It is an acronym for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning)." The "+" includes all other members of the LGBTQ community who do not find themselves defined by any of the aforementioned terms.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are often nervous about being transparent about their identities at work. According to a 2021 survey conducted by The Williams Institute, about 50% of LGBT employees had not come out to their supervisors, while 26% had not shared their LGBTQ+ identity with co-workers.

What Is the Corporate Equality Index?

The Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is a system that easily identifies LGBTQ+-friendly work environments. The CEI has been published since 2002, and it was modeled after the 10-point Gay and Lesbian Values Index that author Grant Lukenbill created. It has since transformed into a nationally recognized 100-point scoring system.

The CEI is used as a benchmark for employment equality practices for the LGBTQ+ community nationwide. Diversity efforts are directly related to engagement among LGBTQ+ employees, according to a 2014 report by the Human Rights Campaign. Diversity efforts also positively impact innovation and productivity and even correlate with higher workplace retention.

Now in its 20th year, the CEI has expanded to include 842 top scorers. You can quickly identify key findings on hundreds of employers across the United States with its searchable database. We've put together a list of 12 potential employers to include in your job search, all of which scored 100%.

Apple Inc.

Perhaps one of the most well-known companies worldwide, Apple Incorporation — operated out of Cupertino, California — has attained a perfect score in the CEI rankings for 20 years. Not only do they support LGBTQ+ members of their community during PRIDE month with new releases and employee initiatives, but more than 55,000 of their employees belong to one or more of their Diversity Network Associations.

Apple has been protesting recent Texas transgender laws, among other LGBTQ+ laws across the United States. The company regularly supplies funds to LGBTQ+ organizations like GLSEN, The Trevor Project, PFLAG, and Gender Spectrum.

In 2022, Apple ranked 4th for overall employee happiness.

Airbnb Inc.

Airbnb is one of the world's top rental websites for vacation homes and condos. It offers about 6 million listings in over 220 countries worldwide, rivaling traditional hotel options. Its competitive tech apprenticeship program helps students and recent graduates work their way into their coveted entry-level openings. In 2021, employee resource groups compiled and distributed a Guide to LGBTQ+ Allyship.

As of August 2021, 13.5% of their U.S. supply chain are minority-owned businesses, including those operated by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Airbnb has earned a perfect score on the CEI seven years in a row.

Replacements Ltd.

McLeansville, North Carolina-based Replacements Limited is the world's largest retailer of crystal, china, and silverware. A private organization founded in 1981, they have ranked at the top of the CEI for 20 years.

Spouses, same-sex couples, and transgender employees are offered equal health coverage. Their workforce protections are inclusive as well. New hires and employees are subject to diversity goals, initiatives, continued education, and trainings to stay open-minded and perpetuate self-expression and inclusion.

Replacements Ltd. often hires graduates from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and offers competitive starting salaries.

American Airlines

Another Top 100 CEI scorer of the last 20 years? Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines. They were the first major airline to take a stand for the Equality Act and protections for LGBTQ+ workers.

They were also the first to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in company-wide nondiscrimination policies. American has spoken out for transgender rights and endorsed the United Nations LGBTI Standards of Conduct for Business.

American Airlines has many positions open for college students, non-students, and recent graduates. According to data from about 500 employee reviews, about 56% of their employees were pleased with their work environment. Seventy-one percent of employees on the sales team gave positive workplace reviews.

Riot Games Inc.

Los Angeles-based Riot Games Inc is a gaming and technology company. Because they are player-focused, they quickly pivoted to acknowledge LGBTQ+ players and foster an inclusive environment on their platforms.

Riot Games Inc openly celebrates PRIDE, with proceeds going to the It Gets Better Project and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

A whopping 94% of employees are pleased with their working environment, and 80% of employees in Los Angeles reported that Riot Games is supportive of LGBTQ+ employees. The team services students with internships that help spark their interest and creativity in the gaming industry.

Xerox Corp

Norwalk, Connecticut is home to the Xerox Corporation, another CEI 20-time high score recipient. Xerox has been in operation since 1906, selling digital and print document products and services in over 160 countries.

Diversity and inclusion are highly encouraged as an essential facet to Xerox culture. The Wilson Rule was enacted to increase opportunities for minority groups in management roles. The GALAXe Employee Resource Group was created to support and increase the visibility of LGBTQ+ community members within the company.

Xerox provides internships and co-op programs to prepare students and recent graduates for employment.

Nike Inc.

Based in Beaverton, Oregon, Nike Inc. (Nike, Converse, Hurley, Cole Haan, Umbro) is the world's largest athletic apparel company. Its BETRUE collection is powered by employees in the LGBTQ+ community and Nike's PRIDE Network. The Nike PRIDE network also raises company-wide LGBTQ+ awareness and initiates organizational partnerships with athletes and talent that are part of the extended community.

More than 73,300 employees worldwide enjoy extended workplace protections, benefits, and advancement opportunities in their corporate offices and storefronts. In 2018, Nike ranked second for happiest employees in America.

Mastercard

Headquartered out of Purchase, New York, Mastercard (Mastercard Electronic, Maestro, Mondex, Cirrus) is a global payment technology business. In 2021, 88% of employees reported that they were pleased with Mastercard as a workplace overall. In addition, the company has been named on various Fortune's Best Workplace lists. Twenty-one percent of employees stay with the company for 6-10 years, if not more.

Mastercard's summer internship program helps students get their foot in the door in the financial industry. Recent graduates can join Mastercard Launch, a program that grants access to professional development and mentorship opportunities during an 18-month full-time paid session. Mastercard's True Name campaign has made it easier for transgender and nonbinary cardholders to comfortably make secure payment transactions.

Salesforce

San Francisco-based software company Salesforce is the number one customer relationship management platform in the world. The company hosts quarterly allyship leadership workshops and yearly conventions that focus on inclusivity and expansion.

Salesforce openly supports and champions its LGBTQ+ employees and the community at large. They have many company equality groups to get involved with, including their Outforce program, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community specifically. Outforce is responsible for the LGBTQ+ Workplace Equality Handbook that new hires must read.

Salesforce has partnered with Pink Fest to create opportunities like the Inclusive Careers Lab. They use their Futureforce University Recruiting program to hire and support new college graduates, and 90% of employees are pleased with their work environment.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co — based in New York, New York — appears on the CEI with a top ranking for the 20th year in a row. The company is known for championing minority groups. It has been honored by the National Autistic Society in the UK and the Hispanic IT Executive Council in recent years, among other accolades.

They instituted a PRIDE business resource group as early as 1996, and their Office of LGBT+ Affairs is a global initiative for advancing equity and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community. They also offer lucrative apprenticeships and internships for students and recent graduates.

Adobe Systems Inc.

Adobe Systems Inc. of San Jose, California is a company that designs, manufactures, and distributes creative software. Many of their staff belong to the LGBTQ+ community, and they celebrate that fact year-round.

Pronouns are respected in the workplace at Adobe Systems Inc. The company offers personal support and family planning benefits. They also provide adoption and surrogacy assistance, dependent partner healthcare coverage, and gender reassignment benefits.

Internships help college students prepare for the tech industry, while the company encourages recent grads to apply. Ninety-four percent of employees are pleased with the work environment at Adobe.

Eastman Kodak Co.

Rochester, New York-based Eastman Kodak Co. (Kodak EasyShare Gallery, KODAK Prosper, Kodak Nexpress, etc.) has achieved a perfect score on the CEI 20 years running. The Lambda Network at Kodak, a Kodak Employee Resource Group, was launched in 1992.

The Lambda Network seeks to educate leaders at the company about the unique needs of LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace. Kodak was the first Fortune 500 company to host an event on LGBT issues.

Kodak has a high retention rate, with many employees staying 9.5 years or more. Their apprenticeships and internships help make positions within the company more accessible to students and recent graduates.

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Frequently Asked Questions About LGBTQ+-Friendly Work Places

true How do you know if a company is LGBTQ+ friendly?

You can identify if a company is LGBTQ+ friendly by checking the searchable CEI database by the Human Rights Campaign. High retention rates are often indicative of an inclusive workplace.

Usually, if a company has a sustainability plan that includes diversity efforts and inclusive benefits, they are on the right path. Making sure an employee base comprises people from all backgrounds and agendas can better lend perspective to the workforce. Perspective often leads to innovation, inspiration, and creativity, which can allow for a more positive work environment.

true What jobs are related to LGBTQ+?

All jobs should be open for — and therefore related to — the LGBTQ+ community. However, specific jobs like civil rights lawyers, communication specialists, youth counselors, and news reporters can help to further an inclusive agenda.

Career opportunities in diversity and inclusion and long-term sustainability are directly related to the LGBTQ+ community. Running employee resource groups and researching forward-thinking benefits as a human resources representative helps to further impact LGBTQ+ members of your community. With inclusion comes a bigger talent pool, diverse perspectives, and more innovative experiences.

true Can an employer ask if you are LGBTQ+?

Legally, no employer — current or prospective — can ask you to identify your sexual orientation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlines that employers cannot discriminate based on sex.

However, you may want to disclose this information for many reasons. You will want equal access to benefits, and your company may be more willing to explore alternative, inclusive options on your behalf.

Future diversity tactics and minority partnerships could hinge on statistics that include your orientation and happiness levels. If you want to use specific pronouns in the workspace, you may want to share this information as well.