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Mutual fund giant
protects gay workers

Mutual fund giant
protects gay workers

The Vanguard Group, one of the nation's largest mutual fund companies, has voted in favor of protections for gays and lesbians in the workplace.

The Vanguard Group, one of the nation's largest mutual fund companies, announced on Monday that in all of its proxy votes, it will support workplace protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Following discussions with Equality Forum, a national gay civil rights organization, Vanguard made the corporate policy change, which will extend to all the businesses it owns shares in.

"Vanguard has now made a determination that it's in the corporate and shareholder interest to value and protect workplace diversity," said Malcolm Lazin, executive director of Equality Forum. Vanguard manages $880 billion in assets and holds much sway in the financial world, he added. "This [policy change] is hugely important because Vanguard is the gold standard of mutual funds," Lazin said. "They set industry standards and are seen as ethics-bearers."

According to Lazin, Exxon Mobil, number 2 on the Fortune 500 list, is next on the list of companies Equality Forum hopes will add sexual orientation to their nondiscrimination policy. With 149 million shares, Vanguard is the fourth largest institutional holder of Exxon Mobil shares. According to an Exxon Mobil representative, the company's next annual meeting--where company policy could change--will be in spring 2006. (

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