Apple is actively waging a campaign against anti-LGBTQ+ policies

The news: Apple uses its lobbying clout to fight anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, per Politico, despite historically eschewing the spotlight when it comes to politics.

  • In Texas, Florida, Iowa, and other states, the consumer tech giant is lobbying and leveraging its resources to resist bills that target gay and transgender individuals and their families.

More on this: Fred Sainz, Apple's senior director of corporate communications, recently encouraged Fortune 500 CEOs to condemn a Texas governor's order calling for child abuse investigations of parents who provide transgender children with gender-affirming care.

  • A letter decrying that policy was eventually signed by 60 other organizations, including Levi's, Unilever, Patagonia, Johnson & Johnson, and other notable brands, and published in The Dallas Morning News on March 11.
  • Apple's legal team is collaborating with policymakers and advocacy groups to develop strategies and file court papers in LGBTQ rights matters. Company executives have urged other large brands to publicly reject these measures on the grounds that they promote discrimination and put LGBTQ kids at risk.
  • Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is the most recognizable gay executive in the US, though he doesn’t talk about that aspect of his identity that much in public.

Behind the numbers: These moves mark an uncommon foray into a contentious political debate by one of the world's most valuable firms. But is the issue really that contentious?

  • Based on a 2021 Gallup poll, people identifying as LGBTQ+ are now close to 6% of the US population, but the general consensus is that this is very much an undercount. Some researchers have put the number as high as 12% to 15% of the population.
  • One in five of US Gen Z consumers identify as LGBTQ+, per Gallup, which could explain why 53.5% of Gen Z consumers are more likely to buy a product or service whose ad mentions LGBTQ+ acceptance, according to TextNow research.
  • 48% of adults in the US (and 47% globally) support companies and brands actively promoting equality for LGBT people, per Ipsos.
  • California and Texas have the highest LGBTQ+ populations, per the Human Rights Campaign. Some smaller states may have a lower LGBTQ+ population in absolute numbers but in relatively bigger proportions to their state population, so it is an issue that touches both liberal and conservative states, notes our senior analyst for demographics, Jingqiu Ren.

Compare & contrast: Apple’s lobbying stands apart from Disney’s public relations fiasco surrounding the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which led to an employee-led #DisneyDoBetter campaign.

The big takeaway: Studies have found that corporations in states that advance legislation seeking to restrict rights of LGBTQ+ individuals have a harder time recruiting and retaining staff, with this effect more pronounced on the younger, college-educated professionals that Apple relies on. And as noted above, LGBTQ+ issues are a big deal in California, where Apple employs 36,786—not to mention the hundreds of thousands of jobs within its greater ecosystem.

  • With experts citing higher acceptance of trans people in tech, Apple is focusing on an issue that is likely important to its rank and file and broader community.

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