In one of the boldest moves of its kind, Google has launched a global campaign to promote safer conditions for LGBT people in and out of the workplace. The announcement came just weeks after the Universal Life Church Monastery issued a proclamation calling on corporations like Google to deny business services to U.S. states which legislate discrimination against sexual minorities. People who want to become a minister in online churches like the ULC Monastery have good reason to support this kind of corporate action, since it reflects a core ULC value — absolute equality for all.
The announcement was made on Saturday, 7 July, at the Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London. Speaking at the conference, Google executive Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe explained his company’s commitment to protecting its workers: “We want our employees who are gay or lesbian or transgender to have the same experience outside the office as they do in the office,” he said, noting that “[i]t is obviously a very ambitious piece of work.” It is a vision which many nondenominational wedding ministers and online churches share, reflecting the commitment to goodwill and social justice found in many world religions.
Sexual minorities face greater legal hurdles in some countries than in others, however, and Google is launching the first phase of its campaign in these countries by promoting the economic benefits of equality. Two of these countries are Poland and Singapore, where business could see a great boost by welcoming talented LGBT professionals. “Singapore wants to be a global financial center and world leader,” said Palmer-Edgecumbe, “and we can push them on the fact that being a global center and a world leader means you have to treat all people the same, irrespective of their sexual orientation.” Like many nondenominational online churches, which have martialled support from nongovernmental and community organizations, Google’s strategy is to forge alliances between governments, non-governmental organizations, and corporations, emphasizing the enormous power of corporate economic influence.
This treatment of equality as an economic boon is expected to be mutually beneficial for Google and its employees around the globe, with both reaping the reward of safer environments for sexual minorities. “We operate in many countries and have a very globally mobile workforce,” said Palmer-Edgecumbe, and “[w]e have had a number of instances where we have been trying to hire people into countries where there are these issues and have been unable to put the best person into a job in that country.” Many who decide to become a minister in an online church can sympathize with this plight, having come from life situations in which they or their friends or family have been denied positions they were qualified to work in due to their sexual identity.
The ULC Monastery is excited about Google’s bold move and wishes to congratulate the search engine giant. Social justice issues are a central aspect of our mission as ULC wedding ministers, and corporate support can only further that mission. It would perhaps be gratifying to see companies like Google deny business services to U.S. states which pass discriminatory laws, but it is truly inspiring to see such enormously influential companies try to make a difference, both socially and legally, in countries where they operate. At the very least, it appears as if Google understands that “we are all children of the same universe”.