Amid pandemic and economic depression, Pride Month makes ESG history

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It was a Pride Month like no one in America had ever seen. Months of living with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic had a shocking impact on the country. For the United States, the uncoordinated response of our Federal Government left us exposed to a disease that cared nothing about equality–nor discrimination for that matter. But the first pandemic to hit this country in the last century allowed us a unique view of our vulnerabilities as well as our collective strengths.

We experienced the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression as we were quarantined inside our homes. Our small businesses are struggling to stay afloat even as some of our large corporations are filing for bankruptcy.

The travel and the hospitality industries have been hit particularly hard, and even with its own special stimulus package, hundreds of planes are grounded and many hotels remained closed. Despite being technically able to open, there just is not enough customers to make business sense.

Stock market numbers, which had been on a roller coaster thrill ride for months, have regained their footing, and have actually grown, even as the economy has dropped lower as the number of COVID-19 pandemic cases grow.

What is bad for the economy is not necessarily bad for the financial markets, and nowhere is this clearer than the remarkable stability of companies that support diversity in the marketplace.

It was the moment when Black Lives Matter coalesced in a cross-cultural binding of all races; it was concurrently the moment where genders overlapped in the sonic boom provided by the LGBTQ community; and, suddenly, now America has become a very different place.

“Ever since LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings Inc. launched its groundbreaking LGBTQ100 ESG Index on the NYSE in Q4 of 2019, we discovered the unexpected power that the introduction of diversity into a company brings,” company CEO Bobby Blair opined. “Like a velvet glove of industry, if added correctly, it is barely perceptible on the surface, but touches every element of the business.”

“As we emerge from Pride Month as seen through the gauze of teleconferences and self-isolations, the success of LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings Inc. and its LGBTQ100 ESG Index has captured the notice of the financial media. In interview after interview, the tone of inclusion and prosperity gives a positive spin on an otherwise foreboding time.

Nicole Douillet, LGBTQ Loyalty Holding’s Senior Advisor, explained to MarketWatch’s Ellie Ismailadou how ESG Index’s are not influenced outside factors, serving only to track the performance of inclusive company’s and the value they place in their LGBTQ employees and executives. “These employees are a lot more likely to feel loyal to the company, they are more engaged at work which translates into more productivity, and they feel freer to think outside the box.”

Yahoo! Finance did a feature on LGBTQ Holdings and its SEG Index, showcasing why it has outperformed the S&P 500 by 2.97% year-to-date, with the sectors of Finance, Technology and Healthcare leading the Index. TDAmeritrade’s Oliver Renick on “Morning Trade Live,” expanded on the 3,400 members of the LGBTQ community whose input was used in refining the Index. Renick labeled it, “a pretty interesting democratized process.”

On USNews.com, Aashu Virmani, chief marketing and sales officer of Fuzzy Logix, the Index Analyst that helped build the LGBTQ100 ESG Index, said, “While the pandemic was a catalyst for ESG funds to outperform in the short term, ESG funds are constructed to do better over the long term.” In fact, many ESG-focused companies tend to be high-quality firms that value long-term performance over short-term profits.

“As pandemic centric teleconferences and self-isolation shared center stage with police riots and protests,” Blair said, “they became the fulcrum of a movement for change through innovation.”

Placing value on our common strengths among individual diversity, this past month focused on bringing together hundreds of thousands of people who refused to be silenced into isolation. “The timing of our LGBTQ100 ESG Index, on the edge of an economically crippling pandemic, forced a collaboration by necessity. As a result, LGBTQ Loyalty was perfectly positioned to align this country’s most vocal leaders regardless of age, gender, race, religious belief, ethnicity, mental health and physical disability, and sexual identity as advocates for equality in the industry,” Blair said. “And from this diversity comes a bridge to open up key initiatives to now further expand inclusion.”

At the same time LGBTQ initiatives were moving toward expansion, LOUD Capital, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, launched its Pride Fund 1, a $10,000,000 venture that selects LGBTQ startups to receive seed money. At a time that not only were few investors actively pursuing members of the LGBTQ community, LOUD is doing it during the worst economic collapse in America since the Great Depression.

Densil Porteous, CEO of Pride Fund 1, sees it as a chance to create a safe space for LGBTQ founders.

“Yes, it is about returns, but it’s also about uplifting and the legacy that we’re leaving,” he said.

Timothy Wolf Starr, managing partner at Pride Fund 1, said, “We take our role, very, very seriously when it comes to investing and doing the best we can with these companies, Because it’s more than just our $10 million. It’s us proving we can do it with $10 million to help inspire other firms to do better and to flip over those rocks to find the opportunities they wouldn’t naturally look at.”

The high-point of Pride Month, of course, was the Supreme Court decision that ruled that LGBTQ people cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation or because they are transgender as a matter of law, affirming legal protections from job discrimination for millions of people. It was a major victory with broad implications.

Anthony Kreis, an assistant professor at Georgia State College of Law, called the opinion a “full victory” for LGBTQ advocates. He also added that for the first time in writing a single opinion, the Supreme Court treated the LGBTQ community as a cohesive entity, with the rights of gay and transgender people “bound together in a way they have not been formally bound.”

Barron’s, published by Dow Jones & Company, quoted Paul Donovan, chief economist of UBS Global Wealth Management, that the decision “gives the U.S. an international [economic] comparative advantage”

Improved productivity will result as diverse firms “can more easily move workers to where they are most useful,” Donovan said. “Previously, the risk of prejudice made individuals reluctant to move, either because of their own job security, or their partner’s job security.” Reduced stress can also increase productivity.

So while Pride Month 2020 did not warrant official recognition from the White House, it may forever stand as the most significant Pride Month of them all!

 

Richard Hack is an award-winning author and journalist. He Is LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings' Vice President of Content and Executive Editor of lgbtqloyalty.com.

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