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In 2006 Reaching Out MBA, Inc. launched a search for authors to research and write cases dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender business issues. Since that time scores of faculty, students, and alumni from a variety of business school programs have worked to build this library. The cases are published and available for purchase through the The Case Centre .
Q-101 A/Q-101B (Prudential): Mark Stumpp/Margaret Stumpp

Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia
Written by: Reynaldo Roche
Faculty Advisor: James G. Clawson

This case describes the experiences of Mark/Margaret Stumpp as she underwent sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and the preliminary and subsequent responses of her employer, Prudential Financial, to this decision.  The case provides background information related to Stumpp’s personal and professional history; to Prudential’s clientele and its commitment to diversity; and to the physical, psychological, and financial issues surrounding transgender identity and SRS.  As a case study examining all aspects of Stumpp’s transition—from her initial decision to undergo SRS to meetings with company executives to her post-operative communications and client outcomes—this document presents an example of a relatively successful treatment by a large financial organization of a potentially sensitive issue.  It provides examples of opportunities for improvement and models for adoption for corporations supporting transgender employees undergoing SRS.

Q-102 (Ford): Surviving a Tug-of-War over LGBT Marketing: Ford and the AFA Boycott

Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
Written by: Glauber Teixeira
Faculty Advisor: Christie Nordhielm

This case traces the origins of and the ongoing conflicts between Ford Motor Company and the American Family Association (AFA).  It summarizes Ford’s LGBT-friendly policies and describes its LGBT-targeted marking campaign, which incited a boycott from the conservative AFA.  In doing so, this case study also explains the types of LGBT marketing available to companies and the risks and benefits of each.  It describes the scope of the AFA’s boycott and the response from Ford dealers and company executives.  In doing so, it provides profiles of those individuals active in and influential to the campaigns and boycotts, and it poses questions about audience selection, risks of demographic segmentation, and responding to adversarial boycotts.

Q-103 (Honeywell): A Global Strategy for LGBT Inclusion at Honeywell

Thunderbird School of Global Management
Written by: Megan Hundley, Hector Robinson, James Sayno, April McKibban, Robert Fennell
Faculty Advisor: Denis Leclerc

This case examines the challenges Honeywell faces in creating a supportive work environment for and a cohesive community of LGBT employees and their families.  A global technology and manufacturing company, Honeywell has a presence in 100 countries and employees over 116,000 people worldwide.  The firm values diversity and wants to build upon its current Honeywell Pride Employees Network (HPEN), a loosely organized employee group with outlets at several U.S. office locations, to create the Honeywell Global Pride Council (HGPC).  The proposed HGPC would link LGBT members and allies in all Honeywell offices worldwide; the organization would reduce isolation, increase tolerance, and support the company’s commitment to diversity in the workplace.  However, such a global network poses a number of challenges.  Within U.S. offices, organizers face infrastructural problems, such as inefficient communication systems, and legal issues, such as privacy protection.  Outside of the United States, country-specific laws create additional legal and cultural challenges.  This case study explores the multitude of challenges facing Honeywell as it works to implement company-wide awareness, support, and participation in a global LGBT network.

Q-104 (HP): HP Lobbies to Pass Washington State’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Fielding Graduate University
Written by: Terry H. Hildebrandt, John D. Hassell, Cynthia E. Parker
Faculty Advisor: Miguel G. Guilarte

This case explores Hewlett-Packard (HP) Company’s leadership in ensuring the passage of LGBT anti-discrimination legislation in Washington State.  Spearheaded by John Hassell, Director of Internal Government Affairs Department, HP’s legislative lobbying began in 2001 with a letter to a state senator and concluded in 2006 with passage of HB 2661, which expanded the state’s existing policy to guarantee protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity.  This case examines HP’s methods and strategies in supporting this legislation, and it explains the shifting political factors that contributed to the bill’s success.  It also considers the related support of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and the comparative steps of Microsoft, which sought to balance support for the new bill with the potential for boycott of its products.

Q-201A/Q-201B (Logo): Lisa Sherman (A and B)

Harvard Business School
Written by: Jens Audenaert
Faculty Advisor: Bill George

These two case files trace the career path of Lisa Sherman, now Executive Vice President of Logo, an LGBT-targeted television channel.  As a vice president at Verizon, Sherman remained closeted and suppressed her hurt feelings when colleagues at a diversity training workshop denigrated gay and lesbian people.  On her final day, she came out to Verizon’s CEO, who then worked to expand the company’s non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and even testified in Congress on the importance of including sexual orientation in the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  This case presents Sherman’s career trajectory both before and after coming out, showing how her openness about her sexuality launched her to even greater success: she worked as a COO for a marketing firm, founded her own company, served as a consultant at a major New York office, and launched Logo as a senior vice president.

HBS retains the rights to this case and it can be obtained by contacting Harvard Business Publishing.

Q-202 (Pink): The Pink Dollar: LGBT-Targeted Marketing in a Large Consumer Products Company

Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley
Written by: Fernando Garcia, MBA 2009
Graduate School of Business at The University of Chicago
Written by: Andrew Wong, MBA 2009
Faculty Advisor: Priya Raghubir, Haas School of Business

“The Pink Dollar” presents the dilemma of “Joe Jones,” product director for a well-known fragrance line in the luxury products category of a large consumer products company that produces a variety of personal care products for a number of retail outlets. Its luxury products division maintains 17 fragrance brands for the global market.  While Joe would like to investigate the options for producing LGBT-targeted advertising, media, or products, he must contend with the variable policies of the fashion houses that own his fragrance brands, the risks and benefits of gay-targeted advertising, and the lack of reliable long-term demographic data on the purchasing patterns of this segment.  This case provides background information related to Joe’s company, the buying power of the LGBT community, and the advertising options available to Joe.  It asks you to consider how Joe should present his options at a meeting for brand managers responsible for deciding which strategy to pursue, whether more options exist, and upon which criteria he should base his evaluation.

Q-301 (“L” Word): The “L” Word: Administering Layoffs in Tough Times

Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley
Written by: Khuram Hussain MBA 2010
Faculty Advisor:  Holly A. Schroth

This case chronicles the tribulations of Luke Ward, a Vice President at J.P. Morgan, as he is faced with an impossible decision: following the merging of J.P. Morgan and Bear Stearns, he must lay off one member of his four-person marketing team.  “The ‘L’ Word” examines the difficult dynamics of making such a choice, from the history of the two companies to the history of the individuals involved to the sensitive dynamics of the merging of two powerful financial companies.  J.P. Morgan has expressed a firm commitment to hiring and retaining diverse employees, and each of the three team members brings a different skill set to the team.  Compromising Luke’s decision is his mentoring relationship with Andrew, an openly gay employee who co-chairs the company’s PRIDE organization.  After providing detailed overviews of the key players, this case asks you to decide what you would do if you were in Luke’s shoes, and to explain the factors leading to your decision.

Q-302 (PlanetOut): PlanetOut, Inc.: A New CEO’s Dilemma

Written by: James Silva, Stanford ’05, BA
Faculty advisor: JD Schramm, Graduate School of Business at Stanford University

“PlanetOut” examines the complex position of Karen Magee, newly appointed CEO of the company, as she plots the company’s future course.  A leading multimedia company serving the LGBT community, PlanetOut has recently acquired LPI Media, which produces print magazines (The Advocate, Out), and RSVP Vacations, which provides LGBT-friendly cruises and vacation packages.  Karen must successfully integrate these new ventures with the company’s suite of online products and services, including and  With little room for error because of the company’s limited cash flow, Karen must chart a long-term course for integrating LPI and RSVP into the company’s core online business.

Q-303 (AltCinema): Film Niche: Altcinema Films and LGBT Entertainment

Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley
Written by: Amy Andre, MBA 2009
Faculty advisor: JD Schramm, Graduate School of Business at Stanford University

This case explores the history of Altcinema Films, a film production and distribution company, as it is poised to take new steps for growth.  With award-winning films airing on LOGO, MTV’s network for LGBT viewers, and playing at film festivals to rave reviews, the independent film company prides itself on creating high-quality films on low budgets.  But company founder Kami Chisholm is managing much of the legwork on her own, and would like to grow the company without compromising its mission of creating films with an LGBT focus, particularly films created by women and people of color.  But she faces competition from four other independent film companies, and she questions whether to go deeper into the LGBT market and focus more on bisexual customers—a niche not fulfilled by many other LGBT-focused companies—or to expand her mission to include films outside of the LGBT market.  As Chisholm prepares to meet with her board, she must decide how to make the most of her business on her limited budget, and whether to expand or change the focus of her film company.

Q-304 (eHarmony): Trouble in Pasadena: eHarmony’s LGBT Strategy in the Online Dating Industry

Schulich School of Business at York University
Written by: Andrew Wilson, IMBA 2010, Ryan Smith, IMBA 2010
Faculty advisor: Andrew Crane

This case invites you to devise a short- and long-term strategy for the future of eHarmony, an online dating company that refuses to make same-sex matches.  The company is faced with both a civil complaint and a class-action lawsuit, and must act quickly to diffuse the situation by enabling same-sex matches within its flagship site, launching a new “niche” site exclusively for same-sex matches, or taking some other yet-to-be-determined course.  After providing a history of the company—including its associations with the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family—this case also situates eHarmony in the online dating landscape by summarizing the main strategies of the other major players, including, a site appealing to the LGBT market by explicitly highlighting eHarmony’s discriminatory practices.  “Trouble in Pasadena” asks you to respond to both the immediate legal and public relations threats by devising a short-term strategy at the same time you must determine the future direction of the company by crafting a long-term plan for same-sex matching by eHarmony.

Q-401 (Domestic Arcade): Domestic Arcade, Inc., and the Release of Wayne Reynolds’s Offsides IV

Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York
Written by: Leslie MacKrell, MBA 2010, Eric Pliner, MBA 2010
Faculty advisor: Ana Valenzuela

Domestic Arcade, Inc., a leading video game publisher, is poised to begin the first stages of marketing the next addition to their signature series, Wayne Reynolds’s Offsides, a sports game highlighting pro-football star Wayne Reynolds. This case begins when the Executive Vice President convenes the senior management team to discuss the news that Reynolds is about to publicly announce that he is gay. As a recognized “cash cow” for the company, the game has, at the time of this news, already received millions of dollars of research and development and marketing support; its projected sales revenues would boost Domestic Arcade‟s less profitable games and enable other divisions to continue their game development projects. The management team experiences a wide spectrum of reactions to Reynolds‟s announcement, and together they must decide how to proceed with their plans for Offsides IV—whether to support Reynolds publicly (and risk offending some customers), to scrap the game altogether (and lose the millions invested), or to take some other action. The team must also develop new projected sales figures and adjust their current marketing plan.

Q-402 (Legacy Fund):The Legacy Fund of the Columbus Foundation

Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University
Written by: Leslie Fine, Ph.D.

A permanent fund based in Columbus, Ohio, the Legacy Fund provides financial support to organizations supporting the LGBT community in central Ohio and beyond. Founded in 2000, the fund has grown primarily through focusing on receiving donations in the form of planned gifts. As its all-volunteer board looks to the future, it has tasked communications chair Linda Fauker with developing a segmentation and targeted strategy to be in place at the time of its ten-year anniversary gala in May 2010. Providing you with demographic data, conflicting points of view among board members regarding future fund-raising strategies, and histories of the Legacy Fund and its partner organization (the Columbus Foundation), this case asks you to advise Linda on how to develop her strategic plan. Should the Legacy Fund continue to emphasize planned giving, or should it simultaneously—or solely—focus on current gifts? How can it strengthen its brand and increase its visibility in the community while also attracting new donors to secure its financial future?

Q-403 (Cost of Inquality): The Cost of Inequality: Does Anyone Really Want a Sundae Topped with Politics, Sex, and Religion?

California State University, Los Angeles
Written by: Michael Germano, J.D., M.A., M.S., Ivan Montiel, Ph.D.

In November 2008, Californians voted by a slim margin to approve Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that limited marriage in the state to unions between men and women. “The Cost of Inequality” uses
Available at keyword: LGBT
Proposition 8 as a lens through which to examine the impact on small businesses of taking political stances on hot-button issues. Examining the decisions made by David Leatherby of Leatherby‟s Family Creamery, Germano and Montiel investigate the notion that small businesses typically resist LGBT equality measures because of prohibitive costs, revealing how religion, not cost, informed Leatherby‟s decision to donate $20,000 to the “Yes-on-8” cause. As a result, his business experienced a backlash and subsequent decline in revenue. Placing Leatherby‟s decisions regarding Proposition 8 in conversation with broader issues about workplace parity, protection from discrimination, and equal benefits, “The Cost of Inequality” explores questions about the public and private lives of small business owners, and asks students to consider whether and when those boundaries may blur.


Reaching Out MBA supports all organizations supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visibility and inclusion in the workplace.  We commend the work of our LGBT business partners.

± Out and Equal

Out & Equal™ Workplace Advocates is the pre-eminent national organization devoted to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in the workplace. Their  mission is to educate and empower organizations, human resource professionals, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and individual employees through programs and services that result in equal policies, opportunities, practices, and benefits in the workplace regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, or characteristics.

Out & Equal provides enriching workplace services and programs, such as our Building Bridges LGBT Diversity Training and Town Call Series to realize our goal: to promote equality for all individuals, including the LGBT community, families, and allies in the workplace.

Out & Equal also makes significant advancements in our campaign for equality for all people in the workplace through national regional affiliates, networking events, the Out & Equal Workplace Institute, discussion groups, professional speakers, our annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit, as well as promoting LGBT best practices, including Out & Equal’s 15 Steps to an Out & Equal Workplace.

Visit Out and Equal

± Out for Undergraduate Business

The Out for Undergraduate Business Conference in New York helps LGBT undergraduate students learn how other “out” professionals have dealt with these same issues. Panelists will share insider knowledge about if, when, and how to come out in different professional situations, as well as strategies they’ve used to investigate companies’ LGBT policies before joining a new organization.

Their annual conference serves as a high-impact recruiting pipeline into investment banking and management consulting. The program will help participants:

• Build fundamental business knowledge crucial to the interview process
• Polish resume and interview skills
• Network with “out” professionals and students from other schools

Visit Out For Business

± Out Media

OUTmedia is a leading queer cultural activist organization and social enterprise. Our mission is to increase the positive visibility of LGBTQQIA people and promote inclusive multiculturalism through the arts. To support that mission, OUTmedia has become a leading global source for LGBTQQIA and queer-affirmative national acts and celebrity talent.

For more information, please visit the OUTmedia website

More information on partner organizations will be coming soon. To become a Reaching Out partner organization, e-mail us.