Major sponsorships underscore Nissan’s commitment to diversity

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For three years in a row, Nissan has earned a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which is a national report that evaluates LGBT related policies and practices. These include domestic-partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, non-discrimination workplace practices, and public engagement with the LGBT community. Nissan hasn’t always earned a perfect score, though, but through its commitment to diversity became one of the fastest risers in the history of the index when it climbed to its perfect score in 2013.

Nissan hasn’t rested on its laurels, but has continued to improve its relationship to the LGBT community. Last year, Nissan even revised its charitable contribution policy and no longer makes donations to, "Organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, veteran status, physical challenge, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity."

The Gay Straight Alliance at Nissan (GSAN), an employee group, is a major factor in the corporation’s high score. This group that started in 2012 with seven members has now grown to number over 140 members. Greg Cason, the president of GSAN, says it’s all about a positive work environment and teaching employees to bring their whole selves to work. Cason, himself, felt comfortable coming out because of Nissan’s positive environment.

“Nissan’s LGBT outreach efforts are mainly focused on grassroots campaigns such as the sponsorships of local Pride festivals, Human Rights Campaign events and activities with the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce.” Cason said. “GSAN members worked with Nissan’s sales operations teams to develop a way to track sales, and we have seen a measurable return on investment on these events. In 2015, Nissan took its support to the national level through a sponsorship with North America Gay Athletic Alliance (NAGAA) and the Gay Softball World Series (GSWS), and leveraged the partnership in our first LGBT-themed ad campaign.”

Nissan partnered with NAGAA in August at the alliance’s 39th Annual Gay Softball World Series. More than 185 teams from 43 cities across the United States and Canada competed in Columbus, Ohio, for nine days. They also were a part of Nissan’s ad campaign for the 2016 Maxima. More vehicles were showcased at the sports complex as well as during the opening and closing ceremonies.

The National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association’s (NLGJA) 25th anniversary convention in San Francisco was also sponsored by Nissan. NLGJA brought student journalists from across the country for a week of mentoring, training, and professional development in September 2015. These students worked with a team of journalists from across media platforms, working on their resumes, interviewing with recruiters and journalists, and getting a feel for what it’s like to work in a media newsroom.

Here locally in Middle Tennessee, Greg Cason co-chairs the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce. For two years he has been a part of quarterly calls to discuss the best practices to support the LGBT community.

Cason also co-chaired the LGBT+ College Conference held at MTSU, of which Nissan was also a big sponsor. The three-day event in April explored how key facets of identity—gender, race, culture, ethnicity, age, social class, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression—play a significant role in how we experience the world. Students, professionals, practitioners, and leaders spoke on how access and opportunity combine to influence education, commerce, community, government, and each other. Cason says he hopes the conference led students to bring those ideas back to campus to continue the conversation.

Nissan is also excited to be sponsoring Nashville Pride and its representatives look forward to speaking with patrons during the event.

It’s no wonder with all Nissan has done in the past year that they not only remain one of the major U.S. businesses to earn the perfect 100 ranking but also have earned a designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality. Greg Cason says, “I am proud to be working here at Nissan, a company that stands behind their practices.