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Workplace Becoming More Gay-Friendly Survey Shows

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Workplace Becoming More Gay-Friendly Survey Shows

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

September 19, 2006 - 9:00 am ET

(Washington) Gays and lesbians are finding the workplace increasingly gay-friendly according to a new national survey of America's largest companies.

The report, released Tuesday by the Human Rights Campaign, shows major corporations are increasingly competing to expand benefits and protections for their LGBT employees and consumers.

HRC prepares an annual Corporate Equality Index. In this, the fifth report 138 major U.S. companies earned the top rating of 100 percent. That number is up from 101 in 2005, and has grown ten-fold in four years, the report stated.

"I am incredibly encouraged and optimistic about the findings in this report. Companies are not only working to improve their scores, they are actively competing to be ranked the most inclusive and fair-minded in their industry," said Human Rights Campaign President, Joe Solmonese.

"Leading companies, which years ago instituted basic equal employment policies, are accelerating their efforts to expand the range of benefits. This competition sends a clear message that corporate America is rapidly becoming a place of fairness for GLBT Americans."

Solmonese said that there is increasing competition within industries for the top rating, triggering quick actions to improve company policies and benefits at many companies.

Using the index companies can examine their scores in absolute terms and see where they stack up against their competitors.

As an example, Solmonese points to Raytheon Co. which last year was the only member of the aerospace industry to get a perfect score. This year, however, three of its competitors also earned 100%.

Four other industries saw rapid growth in companies achieving the top score. A total of eight law firms, five pharmaceutical companies and five consulting houses all reached 100 percent for the first time in 2006. And, while in 2005, two major auto companies achieved the top rating, this year, that number doubled to four.

"CEOs are very much aware of their score and its impact on their business. They know that a top score means a healthier work environment, greater productivity, and the ability to recruit top talent. They also know that a bad score will hurt their bottom line," Solmonese added.

In all of the policy and benefits areas that were measured, the report reveals double digit increases in the number of companies adhering to the criteria.

Seventy-five percent more companies than in 2005 prohibited discrimination against transgender employees in employment practices. Sixty-four percent more companies than in 2005 implemented at least one wellness benefit for transgender employees.

The report also said that 35 percent more companies than in 2005 extended COBRA, vision, dental and dependent medical coverage to employees' same-sex domestic partners and that 14 percent more companies than in 2005 engaged in philanthropic or marketing activities directed toward the GLBT community.

Almost all of the companies rated - 436 or 98 percent - include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination polices.

"Corporations are rapidly adopting a more complete vision of fairness for GLBT employees in policy and practice," said Daryl Herrschaft, Director for HRC's Workplace Project and author of the report. "These findings reflect a common desire in organizations today to move at a heightened pace to implement fair and equal policies for GLBT employees and then work to publicize their achievements."

Three companies received a score of zero on the report. They are: oil giant, ExxonMobil, grocery chain Meijer Inc, and high-tech consulting firm Perot Systems. None of these companies offer benefits or workplace protections to their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees.

The analysis released today covers 446 companies. The report includes surveys from Fortune 1000, Standard & Poor's 500, Forbes' list of the 200 largest privately held firms, the American Lawyer 100, and any other company with 500 or more employees that requested a rating or for which HRC had sufficient data to derive a score.

©365Gay.com 2006

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