Joe Mirabella

5 stars for HRC's iPhone App

Filed By Joe Mirabella | January 06, 2010 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Apple iPhone apps, buying for equality, Corporate Equality Index, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, iPhone

The Human Rights Campaign launched a new free iPhone App with their 2010 Buying for Equality Guide.

Packed with detailed information from the Corporate Equality Index, savvy shoppers now have mobile information when they want to purchase a product they know is produced by an LGBT friendly corporation, or avoid products from unfriendly companies.

The interface is clean and simple to use. Corporations are divided into common categories like restaurants, retailers, kids, newsstand, and so on.

Once you click through the category, a list of brands is ranked from top to bottom and divided into three categories. The best companies are labeled in green with a suggestion to "support these brands." The middle tier brands are color coded in yellow and labeled "brands that could do better." The third tier is red with a warning to "avoid these brands or non-responders."

You can click through to learn more about each company and their subsidiaries by reading their score card.

This is the first App in the iPhone store that I've seen with a 5 star rating. I honestly don't know if another one is out there. People really love using it. One reviewer noted, "Just used this to buy new tires. Won't be buying from Goodyear until they start respecting our community."

Goodyear is listed on the brands to avoid or non-responders list. They failed to participate in the Corporate Equality Index, the iPhone App indicates they have a long way to go before they could be categorized in the yellow or green sections. They have an employee non-discrimination policy in their handbook, but they don't appear to provide domestic partner or same-gender spousal benefits. Allegedly, they also do not explicitly mention gender identity in their non-discrimination policy.

While the community is giving this App a 5 star rating because they are enthusiastic about the opportunity to easily vote with their dollar, the App itself could use a few improvements. A search feature should be added, so users do not have to spend as much time scrolling through long lists. I would also like to see an e-mail button next to each listing so consumers can send a note to customer service departments alerting them to why they chose or didn't choose their product. And finally, I would love HRC to include a bar code reader so people could quickly scan an item in the store and the app could tell me whether to purchase or not.

These potential improvements aside, I highly recommend the HRC iPhone app. Our most powerful vote is the vote with our dollar. Progressives should be savvy shoppers and only support the companies that support the kind of world we want to live in.

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This is an excellent idea. I've spent a lot of time and effort alerting people to companies which, clearly, don't value their LGBT employees. It can be a real uphill battle. For example, Scholastic, Inc. (the largest publishing company for school-aged children) has a horrible Equality score (barely above WalMart's) even though they're headquartered in Manhattan. They sponsor book fairs in virtually every public school in this country and have a virtual monopoly. The IPOD app would have been much easier than sending many people a link the large PDF file of the Equality Index.

My only criticism of the Index is (not surprising coming from HRC) it does a very poor job of defining and evaluating company compliance towards transgender employees. Companies which have terrible track records with trans employees and, especially trans-related healthcare are given high marks (even some 100s) and HRC's grading system for allotting points completely minimizes serious omissions of trans health coverage. Unfortunately, no matter how good the app is implemented, if the data it's based on is gathered and evaluated with a bias, it limits the usefulness of what it offers.

Finally, after $550 million, HRC has done something useful. Not very significant, but kinda useful.

How's the "equality strategy" coming HRC? You know, the one you promised last February? You called it "Plan B?" Can we see it now? Do you even have a strategy? (No, I didn't mean your fundraising strategy, I meant the winning strategy for our equality).

. . .

Great idea. Much more useful than a website you can't access while you're shopping or carrying around a little booklet or something.