When potential customers are using Google Search and Maps to find businesses nearby, they’ll now see a new attribute in business profiles of inclusive businesses owned by LGTBQ+ entrepreneurs.
Google has taken another step towards inclusivity with a new Google Business Profile feature that allows business owners from the LGBTQ community to distinguish their business from others. Now, they can set an LGBTQ-owned attribute on their business listing.
Since 2018, Google Business Profiles have allowed business owners to list their location as a safe space for all types of consumers. Now, this new identity attribute allows for a more direct and intrepid approach. Previously, business owners could set labels such as “LGBTQ-friendly” and “Transgender Safe Space,” even if heterosexual people ran those establishments.
“This builds on our previous work with the globally available LGBTQ+ friendly and transgender safespace attributes and offers a more objective attribute that only businesses can add to their profiles,” said Mackenzie Thomas, Google’s product and marketing inclusion lead about this update.
The move follows Yelp’s introduction of an LGBTQ-owned business label in May 2021 after observing that searches for “LGBT+ owned businesses in the US” soared by 150% that year.
Now that two top players in the local search space allow users to add these attributes, how will they impact both consumers and businesses? For example, will these attributes affect the decision-making of prospective customers looking for a company in their proximity?
In this blog, we attempt to answer these questions with recent reports from Google and Yelp.
How Can Google’s and Yelp’s attributes Help the LGBTQ+ Community?
As political uncertainty around LGBTQ community rights grows in the United States, these attributes serve as a welcome way to guarantee a safe space in the stores people from the community support. It also comes on the heels of Pride Month, celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising serves as the tipping point of the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
Companies like Google and Yelp recognize how customers from minority groups and others wish to engage with businesses or service providers who belong to minority groups. In the past few years, Black-Owned and Latino-Owned attributes have also been introduced on both platforms. These attributes serve to promote safe spaces for minorities and help others identify and support minority-owned businesses.
This year, Yelp has been actively campaigning against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the US. In celebration of Pride Month this year, Yelp put together a list of LGBTQ-owned “Ones To Watch” businesses that customers can support all year long.
Yelp also helps people discover inclusive places of business by featuring rainbow-colored map pins on LGBTQ-owned and Open to All restaurant, food and nightlife businesses. These new map pins can be found by searching for LGBTQ-owned and Open to All businesses or restaurants and through the home page on the Yelp mobile app and a banner on the Yelp search page on desktop.
Are These Attributes Sufficient to Help LGBTQ+ Owned Businesses?
In the face of a growing social consciousness movement that calls for people to support businesses that have similar values as them — this move is geared toward helping business owners who have traditionally faced discrimination and social marginalization garner support from the right audience.
Case in point: the Chick-fil-A controversy led to many of its customers boycotting their stores because of their long-standing anti-LGBTQ activism. While Chick-fil-A is still a big name in the fast food industry, the shadow from the controversy still looms over its brand name and reputation. This indicates just how much modern consumers care about the “heart” of the business they buy from.
Not to mention, Google also has abuse response teams to deal with any harassment issues and mistreatments it detects on its platform. It also allows business owners to report negative and abusive reviews that are based on their identity.
Although these measures do not necessarily safeguard business owners from in-person harassment or harm, they are a good step towards ensuring online safety.
How Do Google and Yelp Verify LGBTQ+-Owned Businesses?
At this point, Google and Yelp only allow verified owners to add this attribute to their profiles. However, neither company has a KYC system or manual verification system that requires businesses to prove their identity at the moment.
This opens the door for people who want to use these attributes to manipulate growing social consciousness retail trends to their advantage.
On the flip side, if Google were to put such an identification process in place, just the process of proving their identity and going through a whole identification process for an attribute could take valuable time and resources away from their own business. This, in turn, could also work against minority business owners’ interests.
What Are Other Business Attributes Available on Google and Yelp?
Businesses can use the following identity attributes on their Google Business Profiles:
- Women-owned, and now
Yelp accounts can list their business as:
- LGBTQ+ owned
- Asian-owned, and also
- Open To All
Can Business Owners from Anywhere in the World Use These Attributes?
These Google Business Profile attributes are only available in the US for now. These attributes are also not wholly inclusive of other minorities, such as the Asian community. Both these factors are causes of concern for minorities around the world who seek similar recognition.
Yelp has an Asian-owned business attribute, and we’re intrigued to see when and how Google will include other minority groups in the future. Until then, we can celebrate the fact that it’s taking steps to be more inclusive each year.