Like fellow board member, LZ Granderson, Martina Navratilova is most definitely not about just “sticking to sports.” Her Twitter page reminds readers that “telling me to stick to tennis = automatic block.”

Navratilova has long been an outspoken champion of rights, whether for equality, civil rights, human rights or animal rights. She has not been afraid to take chances and speak out on behalf of anyone facing discrimination on any front, because, in the end, she says, “it’s about a fair and level playing field. That’s all we want.”

Navratilova knows what if feels like to stand out, not only as a multi-Grand Slam winning tennis champion, but as an advocate for fundamental justice and equality for all. The Czech-born Navratilova came out in 1981 but had to wait until her US citizenship was final later that year before going public, as being gay then would have disqualified her from that fundamental right.

The decision to come out at a time when difference was not widely embraced or accepted cost her endorsements and popularity, she says, but won her something far more important: Happiness. It was that fearlessness to go after what is right and what matters that has stood her in good stead ever since.

Consequently, the bold steps being taken by LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings were more than a natural fit for Navratilova. She immediately found the group’s plan to launch a LGBTQ Loyalty 100 Preference Index, “an empowering step forward.” It was precisely the direction in which she had been pushing companies for years.

“Diversity is something very important to me as an out gay person, and a woman, and more and more it becomes apparent that diversity is a good thing for the companies and it is a good thing for the customer,” Navratilova said in an interview and talk at HSBC bank.

During that presentation, Navratilova stated flatly that “diversity is a business necessity. More and more customers want to do business with companies that understand them, companies that have a workforce that represents them, companies that communicate with them.”

Getting companies to find the audacity to step forward and support diversity remains a challenge, however, and a sometimes mounting one, given the current political climate, with which Navratilova takes passionate issue on her Twitter page.

“We’re supposed to be the land of the brave,” she reminded us in an interview at George Mason University. “But supporting LGBTQ rights shouldn’t take courage,” she says. “It should be a normal part of doing business, and about valuing every customer, no matter who they are.”

 

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