POZLife: Life from the Infected and Effected point of veiw.

Report: workplace grows more gay-friendly-HRC awards 100 percent score to 138 companies

Posted by pozlife on September 27, 2006

By David Webb Staff Writer
Sep 21, 2006, 17:51

Dallas lesbian Louise Young knows from firsthand experience how much of a difference equitable workplace policies and protections can make to LGBT employees.

“My own life journey has allowed me not only to observe but also personally experience the enormous difference good workplace polices mean,” Young said in a conference call during the Human Rights Campaign’s announcement of the findings in its 2006 Corporate Equality Index. “It makes for better employees and managers. I know this is true because I’ve lived it.”

The 2006 report on workplace benefits and protections for LGBT employees rated 138 major U.S. companies at 100 percent, the group’s highest score. The number is up from 101 in 2005 and up from 13 when the first report was issued in 2002.

Young said she believes the group’s annual report has driven the recent increase in the number of U.S. companies offering benefits and protections for LGBT employees.

“I’ve been a witness to great change in corporate America,” said Young, who is a senior software engineer in the Dallas offices of Raytheon Co. “Now, to have sexual orientation in a company’s nondiscrimination policy is standard business. Even 10 years ago, that wasn’t the case.”

Young said the findings are especially relevant to her because she lost a job in 1975 because she was a lesbian.

“I lost that job because, and only because, I was a lesbian,” said Young, who has been in a committed partnership for 35 years.

Daryl Herrschaft, director of the group’s workplace project and author of the report, said big companies appear to be competing to become the most gay-friendly.

“This report finds that early adopters of gay-friendly policies in various industries triggered a domino effect in a race for the top in several industries,” Herrschaft said.

Herrschaft noted that Raytheon Co. last year was the first aerospace and defense company to achieve a 100 percent rating. This year three more companies in the aerospace industry – Boeing Co., Honeywell International Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp. – achieved the top rating.

A similar trend was seen among pharmaceutical companies, which saw an increase of three to eight companies achieving 100 percent scores.

Herrschaft said the automobile industry continued to “surge ahead in treating LGBT employees with dignity and respect.” Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Daimler Chrysler Corp. and Volkswagen of America Inc. shared the top-tier rating.

“This report shows these police have become a mainstream business practice,” Herrschaft said. “Companies are increasingly recognizing that applying basic business principles of equal opportunities and benefits to all of their employees makes them more productive and ultimately leads to a better product and a better bottom line.”

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the report shows the American workplace is becoming a far friendlier institution to LGBT employees than it has been in years past.

“This competition sends a clear message that corporate America is rapidly becoming a place of fairness,” Solmonese said.

The report also shows that 75 percent more companies than in 2005 prohibited discrimination against transgender employees, 64 percent more implemented at least one wellness benefit for transgender employees, 35 percent more extended health benefits to employees’ same-sex domestic partners and 14 percent more engaged in philanthropic or marketing activities directed toward the LGBT community.

Young said American companies are beginning to widely publicize their gay-friendly environments in internal and external publications, Web sites and annual reports to shareholders. That is helping improve the quality of life for all LGBT people, she said.

“My own life journey has allowed me not only to observe but also personally experience the enormous difference good workplace policies mean to LGBT employees,” said Young, who is the founder of Raytheon’s LGBT employee group. “Having worked at Raytheon for 28 years, I know the kind of difference a 100 percent score makes to employees.”

Five Texas-based companies scored 100 percent. They are AMR Corp., of Fort Worth, Dell Inc., of Round Rock, Freescale Semiconductor Inc., of Austin and AT&T and Clear Channel Communications Inc. of San Antonio.

Several Dallas-based companies were listed in the report with scores ranging from poor to good, but two area companies achieved scores of zero. They are Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp. and Plano-based Perot Systems Corp.

Meijer of Grand Rapids, Mich., is the only other company to score a zero in the report.

The group surveyed 1,520 companies and was able to rate 446 of those. The information was gleaned from surveys, research of public records and contacts within companies. The report can be viewed at http://www.hrc.org.


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