When Hormel Foods added gay pride holidays to its 2012 corporate calendar, there was instant pushback, recalls Larry Lyons, senior vice president for human resources. He received angry e-mails objecting to the decision, and several employees confronted him in person to complain. The calendar, he says, led to “some very difficult conversations that needed to happen” and served as a referendum on Hormel’s support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers.
It’s common for companies that want to attract younger, more diverse employees, including LGBT workers, to meet such resistance, especially those in the Midwest and the South that aren’t in large urban centers. At the same time, industries from oil and gas to construction are facing greater pressure to adopt more open policies.