In good companies

The Advocate adds 10 firms to its list of the top gay-friendly employers in the country

BY Jeremy Quittner

October 14 2002 12:00 AM ET

By any standard,
2002 has been a challenging year. The nation is still
recovering from the shock of last year’s terrorist
attacks, and the economy remains in the dumps.

Nevertheless,
there seems to be no slowing in the steady advances in
workplace protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgendered people. An increasing number of
companies is offering same-sex couples employee
benefits that are equivalent to those offered heterosexual
pairs, including health care, financial assistance for
adoptions, and parental and bereavement leave.

Today, the Human
Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which
rates 319 companies—including 208 Fortune 500
companies—on their overall workplace policies
toward GLBT employees, finds that 92%, or 293
companies, have nondiscrimination policies that include
sexual orientation. And 221 employers, about 69% of
those in the index, offer domestic-partner benefits
for employees’ same-sex mates. What’s more, 12
Fortune 500 companies now include protections for
transgendered employees in their nondiscrimination
policies, more than double the number of companies
that did so in 2001.

“Many of
these changes have come from within major companies where
transgendered people are coming out in the workplace and
asking for equal treatment,” says Kim Mills,
education director for Washington, D.C.–based
gay rights group HRC. “It is like gay issues were [in
the workplace] 10 or 15 years ago.”

The Advocate has compiled a list of 10 good places
for gay men and lesbians to work, adding to a list of
44 companies the magazine has put together in the past
three years. This list uses research compiled by
HRC’s Corporate Equality Index as a starting point.
(HRC acquired the Gay and Lesbian Values Index in
October 2001 and switched its 10-point annual rating
system—formulated by Grant Lukenbill, a journalist
and researcher of corporate responsibility—to a
100-point system.)

To derive a
score, points are assigned to seven criteria, such as
whether the company has a written nondiscrimination
policy covering sexual orientation, offers same-sex
domestic-partner health care benefits, conducts
gay-sensitive advertising, and does not support antigay
groups or groups seeking to repeal legislative
protections for gays and lesbians. This year 13
companies received a perfect score.

The following is
not meant to be a list of the 10 best places in the
United States to work. It is meant to be a list of 10
corporations that have made significant advances in
their attitudes toward GLBT employees.

Aetna, Hartford, Conn. 2001 revenues:
$25.2 billion Employees: 32,000 2002
U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 74 HRC score: 100

The health
insurance giant added gender identity to its
nondiscrimination policy last year and has offered
domestic-partner benefits since 1993, the same year
its gay employees group , the Aetna Network of Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Employees (or ANGLE)
was founded. Benefits offered same-sex couples are
equivalent to those offered straight couples.
Employees also can designate their same-sex partners as
beneficiaries of their pension plans. Aetna gives
extensively to breast cancer and AIDS groups and also
provides its HMO doctors with ongoing education on gay
and lesbian medical issues.

Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, Calif. 2001
revenues: $45.2 billion (H-P only) Employees:
147,000 (postmerger) U.S. Fortune 500 ranking:
28 HRC score: 86

Despite its
complicated merger with Compaq in 2001, the computer
hardware manufacturing giant has made significant
strides in the past few years toward making its
corporate environment a good place for gays and
lesbians. The company has a written nondiscrimination policy
covering sexual orientation and offers
domestic-partner medical benefits. In addition, gay
employees can designate their partners as beneficiaries of
their retirement plans and are entitled to bereavement
leave, long-term medical care, and financial
assistance for adoptions as well as relocation
benefits. Hewlett-Packard has been a longtime supporter of
the Employment Non-Discrimination Act currently
pending in Congress and has sponsored the Gay and
Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s Media Awards
and the Out and Equal business conference. The company also
has sponsored gay pride parades and festivals
throughout North America.

J.P. Morgan Chase, New York City 2001
revenues: $50.4 billion Employees: 96,000
U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 21 HRC score: 100

The recently
merged financial services giant, which takes its new name
from investment firm J.P. Morgan and consumer banking
colossus Chase, added gender identity to its
nondiscrimination policy in 2002, and J.P. Morgan
included sexual orientation three years ago (the merged
company went with J.P. Morgan’s policy). All
benefits offered gay employees and their partners are
equivalent to those offered straight employees,
including a $3,000-per-child adoption benefit and
bereavement and family leave. The company’s
diversity training for employees is ongoing and
aggressive, including a basic awareness training session
supplemented by mandatory refresher classes every 18
months that all include information about sexual
orientation. The company advertises in gay and lesbian
media, both locally and nationally, and it supports a large
variety of GLBT organizations, including Parents,
Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, HRC, and
the Hetrick-Martin Institute, as well as breast cancer
and AIDS causes.

Mitchell Gold, Taylorsville, N.C. 2001
sales: More than $70 million Employees: 556
U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: Does not apply HRC
score: 86

Steamy ads with
half-dressed young men on sofas are not this trendy
furniture maker’s only forte. The company was founded
by Mitchell Gold, who is openly gay, and his business
partner, Bob Williams, in 1989, and its
nondiscrimination policy includes both gender identity and
sexual orientation. Mitchell Gold has had
domestic-partner benefits for both gay and straight
employees for years. The company gives to the Gay, Lesbian,
and Straight Education Network, North Carolina Equality,
HRC, Empire State Pride Agenda, and various AIDS
charities. Though the company does not have a gay
employee group, Gold says about 5% of employees and many
of the top managers are gay.

NCR, Dayton, Ohio 2001 revenues: $5.9
billion Employees: 30,445 U.S. Fortune
500 ranking: 304 HRC score: 100

This manufacturer
of automated teller machines and point-of-sale
terminals added protection for transgendered employees to
its nondiscrimination policy nearly two years ago. Gay
and straight employees receive equal benefits,
including relocation benefits and job search
assistance for employees’ partners. It also has an
adoption benefit of $2,500 per child and unpaid
parental leave of up to 16 weeks. Diversity training,
which includes information on sexual orientation, is
ongoing, and senior management takes an active role in
it. The company supports gay groups locally through
individual NCR offices, has sponsored the Dayton pride
parade, and gives to local AIDS and breast cancer groups.
NCR actively recruits gay and lesbian employees at college
campuses and has been a longtime supporter of ENDA.

Nike, Beaverton, Ore. Fiscal 2002
revenues: $9.9 billion Employees: 22,700
U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 204 HRC score: 100

The athletic gear
giant claims to have cleaned up its act regarding
overseas labor issues, and it began including transgendered
employees in its nondiscrimination policy starting in
2001. Nike has had domestic partner benefits for
same-sex couples since 1994, and all other benefits
are equal for gay and straight employees, including a
$3,000-per-child adoption benefit. The company has
done some gay-targeted advertising in national media,
including the television spot of gay HIV-positive runner
Ric Muñoz. Ads also currently appear on gay-themed TV
shows. Nike supports Basic Rights Oregon, HRC, and a
variety of local AIDS organizations. Additionally, it
has sponsored The Sexual Minority Youth Recreation
Center in Portland, Ore., and this year’s inaugural
Mark Kendall Bingham Cup Rugby Tournament and Festival
in San Francisco. Nike also supports ENDA.

Pacific Gas and Electric Corp., San Francisco
2001 revenues: $22.96 billion Employees:
22,600 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 87
HRC score: 86

Erin Brockovich
may have found some problems here, but the company’s
gay and lesbian employees seem happy.
PG&E’s nondiscrimination policy includes
sexual orientation as well as gender identity (included this
year), and a number of openly transgendered people work at
the company. Benefits are equal for straights and
gays; they include paid bereavement leave for same-sex
partners, which the company instituted back in the
1980s. PG&E has ongoing diversity management training
that includes information on sexual orientation and
gender identity, and it actively supports its gay
employees group. The company has sponsored San
Francisco’s Lavender Youth Recreation and Information
Center and various AIDS groups, and has donated to the
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. It also gives
scholarships to high school students who have
supported gay and lesbian causes. The company has gay people
in upper management and advertises in the local gay
press. In past years it has sponsored a bus
advertising campaign in support of gay and lesbian youth
organizations. PG&E also is a longtime supporter of
ENDA.

Pfizer, New York City 2001 revenues:
$32.26 billion Employees: 90,000 U.S.
Fortune 500 ranking: 49 HRC score: 86

When the
manufacturer of such well-known products as Visine, BenGay,
Listerine, and Viagra merged with Warner-Lambert in 2000, it
became one of the top five drugmakers in most world
markets. It has offered domestic-partner benefits for
same-sex couples since 2002, but its nondiscrimination
policy—which includes sexual orientation—still
does not cover gender identity. All other benefits are
the same for gay and straight employees, including an
adoption benefit of $10,000 per child. The company
actively supports its gay group, but diversity training for
new hires is not mandatory. Pfizer supports local AIDS and
breast cancer groups, and it sponsors the Lansing,
Mich., pride parade, National Coming Out Day events,
and PFLAG. The company advertises its AIDS drug Viracept
in national and local gay media and it actively recruits gay
and lesbian employees at college job fairs.

Replacements Ltd., Greensboro, N.C. 2000
revenues: $72 million Employees: 600
U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: Does not apply HRC
score: 100

Looking to
replace the dish you broke from your mother’s china
collection? You might turn to this gay-owned, gay-operated
china, crystal, silver, and collectibles company,
which can teach a lot of Fortune 500 companies a
lesson about fair and equal treatment of employees.
Most of the company’s upper management is openly gay,
says president Bob Page, and gay issues are frequently
discussed in management meetings. The company’s
nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation
as well as gender identity, and all employee benefits are
equal regardless of employees’ sexual orientation,
including an adoption stipend of $5,000 per child. The
company provides periodic diversity training. It has
unisex rest rooms to guarantee that transgendered
employees feel comfortable. Replacements actively supports
gay and lesbian community groups, including HRC,
GLSEN, local AIDS organizations, the North Carolina
Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and pride parades
throughout North Carolina.

Worldspan, Atlanta 2001 revenues:
Over $500 million Employees: 3,500
U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: Does not apply HRC
score: 100

The online
booking engine for Web sites Expedia, Orbitz, and Priceline
is a partnership among Delta, Northwest, and American
airlines. Its nondiscrimination policy includes sexual
orientation and gender identity. Benefits for all
employees and their partners are equal, including an
adoption benefit of $5,000 per child and bereavement leave.
Employees also can designate partners as
beneficiaries. Diversity training is mandatory for all
employees and is ongoing in the form of monthly lunch
forums. The company sponsors HRC, AIDS walks in Atlanta and
Kansas City, Mo., the Atlanta pride festival, and the
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Worldspan
also supports ENDA.

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