Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Human Rights Campaign uses mobile to alert consumers about equality issues

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has launched an iPhone application that gives consumers ratings on how brands and retailers treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

The application is free to download and is a replica of the HRC’s Buying for Equality guide. Consumers can access the application as they enter a store to see how brands and retailers they may be giving business to treat employees.

“Since we first launched the Buying for Equality guide in 2005, we have been constantly thinking of new ways to get information into the hands of consumers who are passionate about LGBT equality,” said Eric Bloem, deputy director of Workplace Project at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Washington. “In 2009 the LGBT consumer market is estimated to be $712 billion. 

“This application helps to harness that consumer market, directing people to support businesses that support our issues,” he said.

The Human Rights Campaign is an American civil rights organization that works to achieve LGBT equality.

Buying for Equality is an annual publication of HRC that directs consumers to support fair-minded businesses through their purchasing decisions.

Green with equality
The Buying for Equality iPhone application divides businesses and its consumer products into color-coded sectors.

The color-coded rankings are based on a company’s score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index, a benchmark that scores major American corporations based on workplace policies and its commitment to fairness for their LGBT employees.

Businesses listed in green with a score of 80-100 are businesses and brands that HRC says consumers should make every effort to support.

HRC says brands or businesses that received a yellow coding with a score of 46-79, have taken steps toward a fair-minded workplace, but they still have progress to make.

Having a red code and score of 0-45 are businesses or brands that have more work to do in furthering equality, according to the HRC. The foundation recommends consumers support a fairer company.

The guide draws comparisons between products, services and retail outlets that consumers use on a daily basis. 

Consumers can search by shopping category such as food, apparel and finance or alphabetically.

Each rating comes with detailed workplace polices from the HRC Corporate Equality Index.

The application also has an email function for consumers to spread their findings.

HRC is promoting the application through its own properties including its email list, publications, Facebook pages, videos, Twitter and blog at

The foundation plans to start an online advertising campaign later this month.

Consumers can also get the Buying for Equality guide via SMS by sending a text with the keyword SHOP and a business or brand name to the short code 30644.

Seeing red
In addition to its iPhone application and SMS guide, the HRC also has a mobile action network that includes text action alerts to members on LGBT-related legislative and political news. 

HRC ranked food brand General Mills at 100 percent and Kellogg’s at 65 percent.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express received 100 percent while Discover Card got a 58 percent.

Best Buy received a 100 percent rating and Radio Shack received a 40 percent.

Toy brand Mattel came in at 95 percent and its competitor Hasbro received 50 percent.

“This application puts information into the hands of consumers in the moment that they are making their purchasing decisions,” Mr. Bloem said. “Whether it is in the showroom of a car dealership or in the grocery store, the Buying for Equality iPhone app can provide answers to consumers on how seriously the business or brand takes LGBT equality.”