Over the course of the last 60 years, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) rights movement in the United States has become a beacon of light around the world where LGBT persons continue to face intolerance, discrimination, persecution, and death. As this qualitative phenomenological study was being written, LGBT Americans taking advantage of their legal rights to marry, still face employment discrimination, housing discrimination, adoption discrimination, immigration discrimination, and discrimination in public accommodations including a Presidential Executive Order, state, and local legislation forcing transgender people to use the restroom that reflects their assigned gender at birth. In fact, in almost three dozen states an LGBT person could exercise their legal right to get married and still legally get fired from their job, legally get kicked out of their apartment by their landlord, and get denied an adoption simply because they are LGBT without other legal protections. Each of these issues has an effect on employee recruitment, retention, and performance and an effect in terms of creating an organizational culture where all employees can thrive without fear of retaliation, retribution, or being unaffirmed in the workplace. Affirmative corporate activism in the form of company supported LGBT employee resource groups/business resource groups, LGBT serving volunteer efforts, philanthropy, and public policy advocacy efforts combined have helped to make corporate America a critical ally in the movement for LGBT legal quality. This qualitative phenomenological study examines how LGBT employee resource group/business group leaders and executive champions influence corporate activism on LGBT issues. The rise of elected conservative leadership in the United States and around the world challenges the espoused values of corporate leaders on LGBT issues. This conservative revolution challenging the gains of the LGBT movement also creates an opportunity for corporate America to develop standards, practices, and policies. Although LGBT people outside of corporate America are likely to remain far from vulnerable to an increasingly more hostile government, corporate America has a unique opportunity to develop best practices and strategies to keep employees safe, make their customers feel welcome, while testing and learning scalable corporate social responsibility solutions.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Homosexuality in the workplace -- United States; Gender identity in the workplace -- United States; Discrimination in employment -- United States; Social responsibility of business -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin;