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We Love: 2007

We Love: 2007


These very different companies bring their enlightened policies and good karma to the corporate. Salud!

Ernst & Young

Chris Crespo joined the Ernst & Young accounting firm 19 years ago. Today, as the company's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allies inclusiveness strategy leader, she advises 900 LGBT employees through the company's bEYond resource group. Active in 65 of the firm's 95 North American offices, the network focuses on making LGBT employees feel included at work.

Ernst & Young seems to specialize in inclusion. Working Mother magazine deemed it one of the 20 Best Companies for Multicultural Women this year. The firm also made top honors for its overall diversity (DiversityInc) and its progressive environment for employees with disabilities (CAREERS and the disABLED).

One of the world's Big Four auditing firms, Ernst & Young has received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index for three years, but that's not enough for Crespo. She says that in addition to having all the right policies, she wants to ensure that the company's LGBT employees feel welcome and valued at work every single day.

Toyota Motor Corp.

After a brief lapse, Toyota recaptured its perfect score in this year's Corporate Equality Index, which makes it lovable indeed. But Toyota also earned our affection for revolutionizing the green movement.

While other automakers have added hybrids to their repertoire, the Prius retains the most eco-friendly cachet as well as its status as the top-selling hybrid in the nation--U.S. sales last year accelerated to 107,000 (a number already surpassed in 2007), up from 5,500 in 2000, its debut year in the United States. Worldwide, over 1 million Priuses have been sold since its Japanese debut in 1997. The Prius appeals even to those more concerned with saving money than the earth. By switching between a gasoline engine and an electric motor, the hybrid gets between 45 and 48 miles to the gallon, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And to suit every taste and style, Toyota offers hybrid versions of the Camry, Highlander SUV, and several Lexus models.

Procter & Gamble Co.

Any company that takes a stand against Dr. Laura and refuses to be bullied by the American Family Association gets props from us. Procter & Gamble canceled plans in 2000 to advertise on Laura Schlessinger's short-lived TV show and stopped advertising on her radio program, citing discomfort with her controversial opinions. Meanwhile, the maker of Gillette razors and Crest toothpaste continues to advertise on programs like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy despite boycott threats from the AFA. "We seek to reach our consumers where and when they are most receptive to our messages," P&G spokesman Doug Shelton told The Advocate last year.

P&G supported the repeal of Article 12, an amendment that prohibited the city of Cincinnati, where the company is headquartered, from passing any law that would protect gay men and lesbians from discrimination. The company donated more than $30,000 to Citizens to Restore Fairness, which led the successful fight to repeal Article 12. All that, and Susan Arnold, a lesbian ranked number 10 on Fortune magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in 2006, was promoted to president of global business units this year and is the likely successor to chief executive A.G. Lafley.

Chevron and BP

We love Chevron and BP because, well, they're not Exxon or Mobil. In 2005, as Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders voted against offering domestic-partner benefits--for the sixth time--BP and Chevron became the first oil companies to score 100% on the Corporate Equality Index. In fact, Chevron's guidebook for understanding transgender issues in the workplace has been posted on HRC's Web site as a model for other employers.

The differences don't stop with LGBT equality. Chevron chief executive David O'Reilly has called on the U.S. government to promote clean-coal technology in an effort to protect the environment. In contrast, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Exxon Mobil Corp. paid $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to various ideological groups in an effort to discredit the science behind global warming. In the words of Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for UCS, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, Exxon Mobil Corp.'s disinformation campaign is both "cynical" and "unacceptable." You can say that again.

Fabulous Five

Only five companies that received HRC's 100% rating for the first time also made CRO's list of 100 Best Corporate Citizens.

Herman Miller Inc. Headquarters: Zeeland, Mich. Revenue: $1.9 billion U.S. employees: 5,000

From the iconic Aeron chair to the energy-efficient Leaf lighting lamp, Herman Miller makes work a thing of beauty.

Even more attractive, the company grades its own diversity practices every six months, giving the scorecard to chief executive Brian Walker. Domestic-partner benefits include medical, dental, and vision insurance; retiree health care; and relocation assistance. Gay employees are entitled to the same leave time as their hetero coworkers to care for an ill spouse, and LGBT employees and their partners are eligible for $5,000 in adoption assistance.

KeyCorp Headquarters: Cleveland Revenue: $7.5 billion U.S. employees: 20,000

At Midwest financial lending firm KeyCorp, diversity is part of the job. Within 90 days of starting at the company, all new employees must complete an online program outlining KeyCorp's diversity and inclusion policies.

Says chief executive Henry Meyer in the company literature: "Expanding the diversity of our workforce expands the depth of our talent, and that increases our ability to perform."

KeyCorp added sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in its nondiscrimination policy in 1998 and added gender identity this year. The company's medical insurance also covers mental health counseling and office visits for employees who are transitioning.

The Principal Financial Group Headquarters: Des Moines Revenue: $9.8 billion U.S. employees: 13,500

Here's one principal's office you wouldn't mind going to. The Principal Financial Group's nondiscrimination policy has included sexual orientation since 1991. The company played such a key role in Iowa's passage in May of a bill prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people--in employment, public accommodations, credit, housing, and education--that Gov. Chet Culver signed the bill into law in the company's auditorium. Benefits for domestic partners and dependents include medical, dental, and vision insurance; retiree health care benefits; bereavement leave; and free on-site wellness facilities.

Starbucks Corp. Headquarters: Seattle Revenue: $7.8 billion U.S. employees: 134,013 (including part-time)

Sometimes it seems Starbucks is taking over the world: The number 1 coffee retailer just opened in Russia. Yet while the company grows, it maintains a reputation as socially responsible, ranking number 9 on this year's 100 Best Corporate Citizens list.

The retailer, which also owns Seattle's Best, recently rolled out for its human resources department mandatory education that includes LGBT case studies, says Laura Swapp, director of diversity and inclusion. Sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are also addressed in diversity literature provided to new employees and managers.

Domestic-partner benefits include medical, dental, and vision coverage; supplemental life insurance; and adoption assistance. The company also provides financial support to employees who experience the death of a loved one, fire, or other disasters.

United Parcel Service Inc. Headquarters: Atlanta Revenue: $47.5 billion U.S. employees: 320,000

Shipping more packages daily than any other delivery service, UPS was also the first in its industry to receive a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index.

The ride hasn't been entirely smooth: Shortly after the New Jersey legislature passed a civil union law this year, UPS denied health care benefits to the legal partner of one of its gay employees. The company claimed it had no right to unilaterally change benefits covered by labor agreements with the Teamsters union, which represents many of its workers. But UPS changed course quickly after New Jersey governor Jon Corzine said the law provided partners in a civil union with the same rights as married spouses.

UPS intends to offer partner benefits in upcoming contract negotiations, says corporate compensation and benefits manager Steve Nord.

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