The Ten Most Innovative Companies and the LGBTs Who Got Them to the Top

Our annual list of innovative companies shows the many ways LGBT people are making a difference to business.

BY Advocate Contributors

September 12 2012 3:00 AM ET

Procter & Gamble
Julie Eddleman
Cincinnati

Julie A. Eddleman, 42, is the marketing director for North America brand operations at Procter & Gamble, which means she has a lot on her plate. P&G manufactures thousands of products, including such well-known brands as Bounty, Duracell, Febreze, Gillette, and Pampers. Eddleman oversees everything from their placement on the shelves to the purchasing of over $2 billion in media advertising.

“I’m not getting a lot of sleep right now,” she jokes.

Eighteen years ago, Eddleman pursued an internship with P&G because of the company’s own reputable brand name. “I wanted to work for the best,” she says. “And P&G brand management has traditionally been known as being the best marketing organization in the world.”

But P&G proved to be a leader in areas other as well. The Human Rights Campaign listed P&G among the Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality in 2010, and Eddleman, who has climbed the corporate ladder as an out lesbian, couldn’t agree more. “My personal experience has been outstanding,” says Eddleman, who met her partner, Diane Cummins, 15 years ago at a P&G conference. “I was out from the very beginning and I have absolutely not had one issue.”

Education is a big priority for Eddleman, who is also a leader of GABLE, Procter & Gamble’s LGBT employee organization. For 20 years, the group has worked with the corporation on issues including health care, diversity in recruitment, and sensitivity training.

But P&G applies its support in the marketplace as well as the workplace. In 2000 the company canceled sponsorship of Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s TV talk show after the host called homosexuality a “biological error.” Eddleman was among those who first raised concerns with senior management. “When they found out what she had said…we immediately pulled that sponsorship,” she says.

P&G continues to innovate in home and health care markets, and more than half of new product initiatives involve significant collaboration with those outside the company. In a program it calls Connect + Develop, P&G partners with small and large companies, inventors, and sometimes even its competitors, to find and nurture innovative ideas.

Eddleman, of course, is also a customer. She lists Swiffer as one of her favorite inventions—in large part because her five children enjoy it as well. “I love it and my children love it,” she says. “And the fact that they use it and help me clean the house is a beautiful thing.”

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