May 24, 2019
Chris HavensStaff Writer
We have a motto at Best Buy: You can be yourself here.
We want to create a culture that’s inclusive, embraces people’s differences and reflects our customer base.
That means creating a welcoming and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) employees. We do that through employee groups, benefits and resources. And, with Pride Month in June, we celebrate with our employees, customers and communities.
“At Best Buy, we believe an inclusive environment allows our employees to bring their best selves forward. When we show up this way, employees feel like they truly belong,” said Howard Rankin, Best Buy’s chief diversity and inclusion officer.
We’ve been recognized for our commitment by the Human Rights Campaign, landing a top spot on its Corporate Equality Index, achieving a perfect rating of 100 and earning the designation as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” for the 14th year.
Best Buy has also signed on to the Equality Act, federal legislation that would add non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people to U.S. civil rights laws, and adopted the United Nations’ standards for tackling LGBTI discrimination at work.
Support in the workplace
The Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) was established more than a decade ago, and its mission is to help with the recruitment, retention and advancement of LGBTQ+ employees. The group also creates a safe environment for members and allies to network and support one another.
Ngowo Nasah joined the group after hearing about it when she was hired in 2014. “The ERG is very important for people like me who are sometimes misunderstood,” said Ngowo, currently the group’s workforce lead. “It’s a space of acceptance.”
While she feels welcome at Best Buy and says the company is making great strides when it comes to diversity and inclusion, she also says there needs to be more education around the different experiences of the LGBTQ+ community and others.
The ERG is one way to help with that education. The group holds two events a month, one social and one educational or related to business and personal development.
“The fact that we’re addressing inclusivity says a lot about how we think and care about our employees,” she said.
Employee benefits and resources
Shawn Wimberly is the chair of the Pride ERG leadership team and joined Best Buy seven years ago. Last year, Shawn led a volunteer group to create the Workplace Transition and Gender Identity Toolkit. It provides guidelines and resources for supporting an employee through a gender transition and establishing an environment where non-binary gender expressions are respected.
“The reactions we’ve gotten from people using it as a support tool have been incredible,” said Shawn, who identifies as gender nonconforming.
The toolkit joins a variety of other resources and benefits available to LGBTQ+ employees at Best Buy. For one, benefits extend to same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partners, as well as spouses. It’s not just health benefits, either, but also bereavement leave, Employee Assistance Program, FMLA benefits, life insurance and more.
In addition, the company also shows its support for inclusivity through a series of “Candid Conversations” events where employees can discuss topics that can be difficult in the workplace.
Helping customers show their true colors
Ehren Minkema joined Best Buy almost five years ago. He was impressed with how inclusive the company culture was, but he noticed it was mostly internal.
“I wanted to find a way for Best Buy to talk about that [culture] externally,” he said. He knew Best Buy liked talking about products and how they could enhance people’s lives. So, he brainstormed and came up with ideas on how some items Best Buy sold were a good fit for LGBTQ+ customers.
After some fits and starts over a couple of years, Ehren helped launch a collection of Pride-themed products — colorful phone cases, watchbands and PopSockets — that were offered for the first time last year on BestBuy.com. They were a hit. This year, 50 stores in select U.S. cities and our website will have those products, as well as a list of LGBTQ+-inclusive movies and TV shows selected by employees.
“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I enjoy being able to show my pride during Pride Month,” Ehren said. “Having those options, like phone cases and watchbands I can wear to showcase that I’m a part of this community, is important to me.”
Showing pride in the community
Luke Austing has been at Best Buy for almost two years and is a member of the Pride ERG leadership team. His focus is on community outreach.
For example, Best Buy will be a sponsor of the Twin Cities Pride parade this June, and 70 employees are planning to march in it.
The company shows up in the community in other ways, too. Last year, hundreds of Best Buy employees put in more than 550 volunteer hours with different LGBTQ+ organizations.
“It’s important that Best Buy and other companies show up in the community and show that they support not only their employees that identify in that group, but also for customers to see that Best Buy is being supportive of their own identity, whatever that might be,” Luke said.
Best Buy is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community and celebrate Pride with our customers, employees and communities.